It’s a high-rise paradox: rent is at an all-time record despite the economic uncertainty that New Yorkers still face.
For the first quarter of 2012, the average Manhattan monthly rent was $3,418. That’s higher than the pre-crash peak in May 2007 of $3,394 a month, according to a surprising new market report from Citi Habitats.
Another market report by Rent Juice, which bills itself as a provider of lease marketing technology, had an even higher average monthly: $4,054.
“No one would have predicted this,” Citi Habitats CEO Gary Malin told The Post.
“If you look at the way things are, people are still uncertain about the economy and their futures,” Malin said. “It is difficult to finance home purchases, so people are staying in rentals longer than they planned.”
This time around, unlike in 2007, high rental prices contradict the stark economic reality.
“We’ve reached an all-time high in the average rent. The fact that we can do this even though we aren’t seeing income rise dramatically is amazing,” Malin said.
“By contrast, in 2007, the condo market was on fire, there was a tech boom, overall hiring was robust and people felt confident about the future. It’s just not that way now.”
Bear in mind that market reports are more of an art than a science, and all real estate companies prepare them slightly differently.
Still, they all show one thing: a bull rental market.
Rents are now so high, in fact, that “people are being priced out of Manhattan,” said Yuval Greenblatt, executive vice president and director of sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman.
During the first quarter, new rentals were up 33.4 percent from the same quarter last year, according to PDE’s figures. There were 5,167 available rentals — up from only 3,874 available listings.
But despite the jump in supply, the average Manhattan monthly rental gained 6 percent to $3,650 from $3,445, according to PDE.
While more families are staying in New York City instead of moving to the suburbs, many are quitting Manhattan for Brooklyn to take advantage of bigger — and cheaper — living spaces.
Indeed, Brooklyn was responsible for much of the rise in the most recent quarter, according to Rent Juice.
Although average asking rents in some Manhattan neighborhoods fell in the first quarter from the prior quarter, several trendy neighborhoods across the East River skyrocketed.
Among the double-digit gainers: Brooklyn Heights (23 percent); Park Slope (18 percent), Williamsburg (10 percent) and Greenpoint (10 percent).
Brooklyn Heights’ average rent soared to $4,974 in the first quarter, up from $4,058 at the end of 2011.
According to Rent Juice, the neighborhood with the highest average asking rent for the first quarter of 2012 was SoHo — at $8,550.
The Upper West Side saw asking prices drop 7 percent to $4,406, while the average asking price on the Upper East Side was up 7 percent to $4,103.