Economy Still Stinks, But Rents Are on the Way Up


We used to be able to count on certain things. Like when our hair looked good, we looked good. If we got a burger, we’d also get fries. And, when the economy was down, so were the rents. Or so we thought. Not for long, say real estate gurus/money-grubbers du jour Prudential Douglas Elliman and Citi Habitats.

Manhattan rental transactions are up and inventory is shrinking, according to first-quarter market reports released today by Prudential Douglas Elliman and Citi Habitats.

Rents, however, still remain slightly down. Per Elliman, the average rent for a Manhattan apartment was $3,812 (we’d just like to know who’s paying anywhere near that, and if we can sleep on your couch for a few nights). In the first quarter of last year, the average was $4,142.

Citi Habitats, who seem to be more our kind of peeps, estimated the average rent for a studio at $1,750, which is slightly down from $1,771 in the first quarter of ’09.

Is this the moment, then, to finally upgrade from your broom closet parent’s house 10-cubic-foot refrigerator studio, before landlords drop the facade of having an ounce of humanity and start overcharging us in blood money while they line their trousers with $50 bills and the fur of helpless animals?

Gary Malin, the president of Citi Habitats, seems to think so:

“Prices are likely to increase, albeit slowly, and incentives are starting to go away,” he said.

Meanwhile, we haven’t even gotten over the economy yet, says a new Marist College poll.

54% of registered voters in New York think the state’s economy is getting worse. 34% say it is staying about the same, and only 12% report it is getting better.

Somebody needs a drink.