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Winter cools Manhattan’s hot rental market

The winter months have cooled down Manhattan’s red-hot rental market.

Rents in the borough fell 3% to $3,353 in the last three months of the year compared with the previous quarter, according to a report from Citi Habitats.

The average rent for an apartment in December was $3,234, down $134 compared with November, marking the fourth straight month of declines.

A separate report, from Douglas Elliman, showed that big year-over-year rent increases in Manhattan are no longer the norm.

The median rent in the borough in December was $3,150, up a modest 0.8%, the Douglas Elliman report said. It was the third month in a row of slowing rent increases.

“Some of the froth has been taken off of the market,” Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, which compiled the Douglas Elliman report, told the Daily News.

“We have moved to more modest increases at high levels.”

Even so, it’s too soon to call a market peak. Rents tend to fall in the winter months as demand wanes.

But “once you get to the second quarter, if prices continue to go down, that would mean tenant resistance,” Citi Habitats President Gary Malin told the News.

For now rents in Manhattan are still extremely high. Landlords enjoyed record rents in 2012, with the average Manhattan apartment going for $3,412 last year, a 5% increase from 2011, according to Citi Habitats.

The vacancy rate hovered around 1% throughout 2012. It was 1.37% in December, up from a low of .89% in May. Demand for rentals has remained strong because of economic uncertainty and a still-tight credit environment which has frozen out many would-be buyers.

“The market is very strong,” Malin said. “Concessions are way down and the vacancy rate remains tight.”

Rents in Brooklyn fell slightly in December, though they, too, remain at elevated levels.

The median Brooklyn rent last month was $2,637, up 1.4% compared with last year, according to Douglas Elliman.

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