Despite consecutive quarters of plummeting rents across the city following the March 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for certain landlords.
Queens has seen its highest-priced tier of rentals — or homes priced more than $2,500 per month — recover 99% of its pre-pandemic highs, according to just-released data from real-estate portal StreetEasy. That makes this borough’s high-end rental market the first in New York City to reach recovery in the wake of COVID.
It means that renters have flocked to prime Queens neighborhoods, including Long Island City and Astoria, instead of normally more expensive Manhattan and Brooklyn — ratcheting up housing demand in the process and making luxury property landlords raise their prices, StreetEasy adds.
But for many, the rent can be too damn high. The borough’s lower- and mid-tier rental homes are far from their pre-pandemic levels, with StreetEasy adding that prices have only recently begun to recover — and are doing so slowly. That means, depending on renters’ budgets, there are still deals to be had.
Overall, when compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens still remains relatively more affordable. Queens’ median rent was $2,200 in July — whereas for Manhattan it was $3,000 and, for Brooklyn, $2,600. The report does not mention The Bronx or Staten Island.
In the first quarter of 2021, as rents across the city continued to fall to record lows, Queens saw median rents slip to $1,999. For Manhattan and Brooklyn, they fell to a respective $2,700 and $2,390.
What’s more, StreetEasy also predicts that the borough’s rental inventory will return to pre-COVID levels by December, which means higher rents should follow. Inventory in Manhattan and Brooklyn, also made possible by the number of New Yorkers who left town in 2020 as the pandemic raged, will take longer. StreetEasy estimates that Manhattan will see rental availability decline to pre-pandemic levels by November 2022 — and March 2022 for Brooklyn.