Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Forget about all those landlord concessions like a month's free rent or a gratis gym membership to go with that one-year lease — they're so last summer. New Yorkers looking to rent in the five boroughs are facing steep competition for available space, and they're paying more for it.
New York brokerage firm Citi Habitats found in its latest rental market report that vacancy rates have hit a five-year low, a far cry from a few years ago when vacancy rates edged above 2 percent.
"The Manhattan rental market is nearing the conditions seen at the market's peak," said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats.
And it's not just brokers who believe the rental market has become tougher to navigate.
"Median rents have been going up and inventory has been growing tighter," said Sofia Song, head of research at real estate search site StreetEasy.com.
While May through September is traditionally the busiest time for New York's rental market, there are other reasons the market has strengthened.
"We're entering a period of more uncertainty. People are still trying to figure out what is happening with the economy, with our political system," said Jhoanna Robledo, real estate columnist for New York magazine.
That's the case for 26-year old Mike DiNapoli, who just landed a job as a financial analyst with a hedge fund but doesn't feel secure enough at work to plunk down cash on a co-op or condo.
"I wanted to see how my [job] will turn out," he said.
DiNapoli said he decided to rent a space on the Upper East Side, and, like many other New Yorkers, will hold off buying a place of his own until at least next year.