New York is back.  No asterisk.  No maybe. With just under 70% of the adult population in the five boroughs fully vaccinated, the city is open and ready for renting, and more. New York City is experiencing the highest rate of new lease signings since 2008 (Source: Norada). Listing inventory is falling, competition is heating up, and the era of pandemic-driven discounts is officially over.

Which neighborhoods are most active?

Not all businesses are back at full in-office staffing, but the traffic is building. Tech employers:  Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple are pulling staff into Chelsea, the Flatiron District, and downtown neighborhoods. Young professionals deployed by banks and financial services companies to work from home a year and a half ago, are now coming back to their midtown offices. The most desirable amenity? Walking distance to the office. The subway system is not quite back as the preferred mode of transportation. Apartments in key walkable neighborhoods are renting out above list price and landlords have their pick of qualified, eligible renters. Also in high demand: any additional space. And when it comes to renter qualifications, remember that in New York, it is legal for landlords to require tenants to be vaccinated. Agents are advising customers to come prepared with their tenant resumes and their vaccination cards.

Who pays what fees?

A quick recap. In New York City, most landlords use real estate agents/brokers to market their properties. Brokers are paid both by landlords and by tenants for representation. A property listed as ‘no fee’ may mean no fee charged to the tenant from the listing broker/landlord, but the cost of ‘no fee’ is likely built into the rent. In other words, no fee does not mean no cost. To control their total rental costs, a tenant might consider offering to pay the listing agent’s commission and get a lower monthly rental rate. The agent representing your interests can explore these negotiations on your behalf. The tenant agent’s commission, for sourcing properties, securing appointments, and representing the tenant’s interest, is always paid by the tenant. That’s how the market works in New York.

Ready to come back or move in for the first time? 

Be ready for a changed city. As of September 1, masks and proof of vaccination are required for indoor dining and events. Streets are a little quieter as the build back of retail and restaurants continues and, as always, if you are willing to look at neighborhoods that are a slightly longer walk to work or a subway ride away (Long Island City, for example), you’ll likely find more options at better prices. You’re coming back to a city on the upswing, with competition even in the outer boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn) where vacancies are down, and rents are up. It’s a big, bustling place full of choices and surprising finds: if you are headed here, our neighborhood experts can help you find a great place to live.

5 things to know about New York right now

  1. Lower Manhattan, below 34th Street, is the busiest rental market
  2. Students, tech and finance are back.
  3. Pandemic discounts are essentially gone
  4. Landlords can legally require vaccinations
  5. Look little further out, and you’ll find a better deal with more space