Will Manhattan rent go down?

I have to decide in the next few days whether I want to renew my lease. My rent isn’t increasing astronomically, but after two years living with a mini-fridge and a toilet that requires me to sit side-saddle, I’m considering moving to another studio.

But I’m picky. I want to stay in my neighborhood (the UWS). I’ve looked at a few places in my rather chintzy price range, and found that they’re all about as crappy as the one I’m in now; different compromises, perhaps (ie. large kitchen=tiny living space), but overall just as underwhelming.

Anyway, I’m wondering, what’s the conventional wisdom on Manhattan rental prices in a recession/depression? If I stick it out in this place for another year, will I find that 1-bedrooms below 100th street have fallen under $2000? Or is Manhattan just so unique that rents will always rise? All this economic stuff just flies over my head, hence the stupidity of being willing to blow half my income on rent.

Sorry for the region-specific question, but I assume there’s a few dopers here who can offer some insight. Thanks.

Have you never watched Friends? You can get a large two-bedroom apartment for next to nothing if you’re good-looking enough.


From everything I’ve heard, rents everywhere are increasing. With people being forced out of their homes in large numbers, they’re having to move into rental properties, which is causing the price of rents to go up. So I wouldn’t expect to see a drop in your neck of the woods, if I were you.

That’s likely to be a short term effect. A major real outcome of the housing boom was an overproduction of housing. Both renting and owning should become cheaper for the next few years because of that oversupply. There’ll be a bump at the beginning from foreclosures, but those foreclosed houses aren’t going to remain empty forever. Someone’s going to buy them and rent them out.

I don’t know enough about Manhattan, but I do know that it’s a “special” market that often doesn’t behave like other real estate markets. There are a lot more renters, for one, so I wouldn’t think that the foreclosure->rental spike would hit it as hard. Also, it’s pretty well built up. Not a lot of oversupply going on, so I wouldn’t expect that to bring down prices.

However, what there is is a lot less money flowing around than there was a little while ago. That should depress prices there, although I don’t know enough to say how much or how fast.

Manhattan housing is perpetually expensive because the supply hardly changes at all. The housing boom did not cause housing oversupply here simply because there aren’t any new places to build, with rare exceptions. Rather than build more, prices just rise. Rental prices will rise and will stay high as people who once were considering buying will now decide to rent until they believe the market bottoms out or because they cannot secure loans. I know a real estate attorney who was only able to close one deal out of the last four. In the other three occasions, the sale broke down because of financing issues.

The foreclosure issue is also much rarer here. It is mitigated by the peculiar corporation called a co-op. The co-op structure is extremely prevalent in Manhattan. In a co-op, shareholders own shares of the owners corporation and not the physical apartment they live in. This has serious implications for buying and selling.

In a nutshell, co-ops tend to reject systematically marginal borrowers, borrowers with exotic financing, and borrowers who put little or no money down. Most buildings require at least 20% down, and many require substantially more. The co-op application process is extremely intrusive, and as loathsome as it surely is, it has protected co-op shareholders from the excesses of the real estate market.

I live in a very middle class neighborhood by Manhattan standards, and we are not observing foreclosures at all.

It can be very difficult to purchase a place in NYC only to rent it out. In co-op apartment buildings, this is typically against the rules. Even permissible short-term renting is usually subject to fees, surcharges, board approval, and other hassles. It is somewhat easier to rent out a condo, but there are other headaches to consider. Last but not least, NYC has a comprehensive set of landlord/tenant laws that tend to be overwhelmingly favorable to tenants. Given the local landscape, this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it does tend to crowd out small time speculators or people who just want to rent out an apartment or two. You really have to know what you are doing to rent your place out here. A canny tenant who knows how to work the system can be impossible to get rid of. This stinks if you are a landlord of an apartment building, but it is godawful if the person is living in your apartment that you either want to come back to or sell.

How long have you been in the city, The Shroud? I haven’t rented in years, but when I did, I lived in Morningside Heights and Manhattan Valley. Going ten blocks north will net you a better rent and more space.

About two years. I think I definitely need to broaden my search a little. Right now I’m in the lower 70s. It seems like the best deals on Craigslist are above 125th Street. However, despite the supposedly low crime rate, as someone who gets off work at midnight, I’m a little put off by random acts of violence that seem to happen above 100th street.

I can only imagine how painful buying a co-op is; one of the apartments I looked at today was a co-op. My eyes glazed over as the owner explained the rental application process to me: 5 letters of recommendation from various people, two years of tax returns, 3 months of bank statements, pay stubs, an interview with the board…and because he had narrowed it down to me and two other candidates, and he was going to decide amongst us this evening, I was asked to give him my solemn word that I would go through with the application if I was chosen.

It was the first apartment I’d looked at, and I wasn’t particularly bowled over by it, so I turned it down.

I live in the 180s and I pay almost nothing for a huge apartment. I have never had any crime issues here. I love my neighborhood and I live a stone’s throw away from the train. Seriously, consider looking outside the UWS.

:dubious: That seems high, even for Manhattan. Two years ago I had a one-bedroom in the heart of Greenwich Village for $2100. I would think you could find something in another area for $1600-1800.

You live in the 180s and are happy? Where do you live?

I lived in the Bronx, on E. 189th St., and I was never happier to move out of anywhere in my life. Ever.

I live in Washington Heights. My neighborhood is mostly older Jewish couples and Dominican families. It is quiet and Ft Tryon Park is right up the street. My apartment is a 2 bedroom that is over 1000 sq ft. I’m half an hour from Columbus Circle on the A line. I have wandered my neighborhood at 3 in the morning in my jammies and felt completely safe. Granted I am in Manhattan and not in the Bronx but I love my place and the closest thing we have to crime here is graffiti taggers as far as I can tell.

Well, if Craigslist is any indication, sub-$2k 1-bedrooms in the UWS are rare, and $1800 studios seems to be the norm. Seems like everything’s up a couple hundred bucks since I first rented here in 2006.

There are more reasonably-priced 1-bedrooms on the UES, which I’ll be looking into. Unfortunately, they’re all around 1st Avenue and a bit of a haul back to the UWS where I work.

Lower East Side is another potential option. And I’ll check out your neighborhood, pbbth…actually, I love the Cloisters, and I’ve checked out Dyckman Farm, but I hadn’t scoped out the area as a place to live.

It’s always a bit of a shock to go up there, because there’s so much more sky. :wink:

I live up in Inwood, only a few blocks from the Dyckman Farmhouse. I walk home at all hours, as where I am is extremely safe. There are also still great deals to be had. Most of the neighborhood is pre-war art deco, so the apartments tend to be larger and often have magnificent molding, sunken living rooms, etc. I’ve owned up there since 2004, and I couldn’t be happier. You can check local apartment listings here. I am a total Inwood evangelist: if you ever come up to check out places, I am happy to show you around.

There’s beautiful places in Inwood… and then there’s the block where I used to live. I felt uncomfortable walking home during the day sometimes. Stay as close to the park as you can.

The area around Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (168th up to 172nd) has some pretty nice apartments at decent prices. I shared a two bedroom with an eat-in kitchen for $1500 just two years ago.