New Report Predicts Slow Recovery For Rental Market

The traffic and crowds were back on the Lower East Side over the weekend. But while a lot of people are doing their best to move on from the pandemic, the real estate market here and across the city will not be making a recovery overnight.

That was one of the conclusions from StreetEasy’s Q1 2021 housing report, which was released earlier in the week. Rental prices were down more than 17% in Manhattan year over year with the median asking price of an apartment dipping to $2700, a low not seen since 2010. In Manhattan, 42% of landlords were offering concessions, according to the report, “by far the highest StreetEasy has ever seen, and 22 percentage points higher than last year.”

On the Lower East Side, the median rent in the first quarter of this year was $2,665, down 28% from the same period last year. The median sales price in the neighborhood was $807,500, off more than 30% from the previous year.

There are some indications that a recovery is beginning. Inventory is about twice as high as it was a year ago, but it’s starting to gradually drop. StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu expects rental activity to pick up during the summer as city life returns to normal, or at least whatever the new normal will be post-Covid. But it’s going to be a slow rebound. “Renters don’t need to rush to sign a new lease this second to claim a great deal, though,” Wu said. “It will take time for prices to rebound. But the rentals market does react to economic activity much more quickly than the sales market. As the city continues to recover, competition will slowly start to pick up.”