Only in New York! More Apartments Available, Still Tough to Find

Vacancy rates rose in August for the first time in eight months, as landlords cut back dramatically on incentives for new tenants.

According to a Citi Habitats August rental report released early today, 1.1 percent of Manhattan’s units were empty last month, compared to 0.88 percent in July. “We anticipated it would stay where it was for the month of July,” the firm’s president, Gary Malin, told The Observer. “Historically, summer is the busy season.”

Still, Mr. Malin says he’s optimistic that we’re still in a “very, very tight residential market.” The higher vacancy rate is “something to note,” especially if it continues to rise. But he said there isn’t reason for landlords to be concerned (and apartment hunters to be overly optimistic!) unless the rate suddenly spikes over 2 percent.

Incentives for new tenants peaked during December 2009, when approximately 60 percent of apartments rented by Citi Habitats included a concession, such as a free month’s rent or no broker’s fee. During August, this percentage was down to 20 percent, according to the report.

That’s bad news for apartment hunters. But the good news is that rents, which are up compared to 2009, appear to have stabilized.

Mr. Malin suggested tenants might be able to get slightly better deals in the slower fall and winter seasons. His uncontroversial advice is to be flexible because in Manhattan you probably can’t have it all. “Ascertain what’s important to you and what’s not important to you,” whether that’s the amenities, size or area.

Citi Habitats brokered 1,400 transactions last month, and they were spread out evenly over the borough, Mr. Malin said.

Only in New York! More Apartments Available, Still Tough to Find