The rent was too damn high — and now New Yorkers can live it up in nicer apartments.
“This is a golden age to be a renter in the city right now,” said John Walkup, 47, co-founder of real estate data and analytics platform UrbanDigs.
“You have a ton of inventory so you have great choices, you’ve got landlords who actually need you, and so they’re offering concessions and they’re offering lower rents.”
During the COVID-19 lockdown, a wave of apartments hit the market, bringing rental-home availability to record highs. Eventually, landlords slashed prices to lure in tenants.
In the first quarter of 2021, according to StreetEasy, median Manhattan rents reached a new low of $2,700 per month, down from $3,417 a year earlier. Brooklyn median rents fell 10 percent to $2,390 year-over-year and those in Queens slipped below $2,000 for the first time since 2013.
“The pandemic was really the shock that cracked this open,” said Walkup.
How long will the deals last now that the city is in recovery mode?
Despite “fear that rents are going to start spiking,” supply remains high. “I honestly don’t see that happening for at least a year,” Walkup said.
Here are three locals who snagged bigger and better flats for themselves — either for a similar price of their previous one, or less.
He got twice the space for less
Old rent: $2,550 per month
New rent: $2,350 per month
Software engineer Raylen Margono, 26, traded a 450-square-foot one-bedroom in East Williamsburg for a 900-square-foot one-bedroom in the heart of Williamsburg — and is paying $200 less in monthly rent.
“There’s just so much space that you can finally make it an apartment,” said Margono.
It’s also nicer.
At his previous building, issues mounted during the pandemic. There was a fly infestation — and when his air conditioner broke in the sweltering days of summer, building management told him he’d need to wait a week for a new one. Ongoing construction on the property’s facade made matters worse.
“I was hearing drilling on the side of the building, and it would shake the apartment while I was working from home — it was horrible,” he said.
So he took advantage of pandemic pricing and scoured listings.
“You’re looking at what you have right now and you’re looking at what you can have at a better rate — and what you can have is a better apartment at a better rate, [so] why not jump on it?” he said.
In January, he negotiated two free months on a 14-month lease on his new place, which also has high ceilings and an “enormous” bathroom. Like his former pad, Margono’s air conditioner broke this week, but the new building’s management told him they’d fix it that day.
“This place really has their s – – t together,” he said.
They scored luxe amenities such as a roof terrace for $55 more
Old rent: $2,395 per month
New rent: $2,450 per month
When high school sweethearts Connor Verde and Alanna Kaminski, both 22, moved into their roughly 500-square-foot Astoria one-bedroom last July, they immediately noticed one thing. The building across the street was much nicer.
“It’s got a gym, it has a rooftop, an elevator, more responsive management … how do we get over there?” said Verde, who works in finance.
Since they had moved to New York during the pandemic, they had rented the walk-up pad — with no building amenities — sight unseen. They soon realized it wasn’t worth the expense.
“I was unhappy with the condition of the apartment in terms of issues with roaches … management was pretty unresponsive, leaks in the ceiling would take weeks to fix,” said Verde. “It was impossible to justify that price any more.”
Aided by their agent, Triplemint’s Theresa Persaud, they asked management for free months and a lease break, but nothing worked.
So they kept an eye on listings across the way as prices slipped. A similarly sized one-bedroom popped up for $2,500. The couple negotiated the price down and move in Tuesday.
“Moving here was the right choice because we have all these amenities and we’re paying relatively the same price,” said Kaminski, a nanny.
“I love looking at the skyline and watching the sunset,” said Kaminski. “Now we can go to the rooftop and watch that every night.”
She scored a second bedroom for the same price
Old rent: $2,995 per month
New rent: $2,995 per month
“Instead of being, ‘I wish I had this, I wish I had that,’ I live comfortably now — and I have all the amenities that I need,” said 31-year-old Chelsea resident Hannah Shatzen, who traded a roughly 600-square-foot one-bedroom for a nearly 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom one floor below.
That includes more space for entertaining.
“I’ve always wanted to be able to have a dining room table that can fit four to five people,” she said, but the space in her old unit didn’t allow for it. (A table with a leaf couldn’t expand.)
Now it’s out, and set with three new chairs and a bench — all under a vibrant work by the late painter Jules Olitski.
“This is my goal: to be able to have a dinner party in my apartment — and I can do it now,” she said.
She nabbed the larger unit for the one-bedroom’s original $2,995 rent — she had gotten a brief COVID concession — after seeing it list on StreetEasy and working with Corcoran agent Trina Cooper to make it hers.
Shatzen, who works in marketing, moved in Valentine’s Day.
Now, she uses the second bedroom as a wardrobe and home office.
“When I’m done, I can walk out and actually have a moment of serenity in another area of my apartment that doesn’t symbolize work,” she said. “That wasn’t the case before. I was always staring at my desk.”