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Northwest Queens Is the New Brooklyn When It Comes to Rent

By Amy Zimmer | September 8, 2016 7:18am
 This two-bedroom/two-bath at Avalon Riverview, 2-01 50th Ave. in Long Island City is listed by Douglas Elliman for $4,571 a month.
This two-bedroom/two-bath at Avalon Riverview, 2-01 50th Ave. in Long Island City is listed by Douglas Elliman for $4,571 a month.
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Courtesy of Douglas Elliman

QUEENS — As a number of units in shiny new developments hit the rental market of Northwest Queens, prices in the area increased last month, according to a report released Thursday from Douglas Elliman.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s rental market saw prices decline — resulting in a tie for the median price of both boroughs.

The median rent of the Northwest Queens neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside rose about 5 percent over the past year to $2,895 a month, the Elliman report found.

In Brooklyn, the median rent slipped nearly 2 percent, but wound up at the same price: $2,895 a month.  

But that doesn't necessarily mean that Queens prices will continue an upward trajectory.

Last month’s price hike in Queens was largely a result of new development making up a larger share of the listings, jumping to about 43 percent, up from roughly 30 percent a year ago, explained Jonathan Miller, who authored the Elliman report.

Since the Northwest Queens market is relatively small — with just 468 listings — it’s fairly volatile in terms of pricing from one month to the next depending on how much new development there is, he noted.

“In aggregate, Northwest Queens has actually seen flat growth over the year," Miller said, "while the other two boroughs have seen many months of price growth."

Price growth in the other two boroughs, however, no longer seems like a sure bet as both are seeing inventory rise.

In Brooklyn, the dip in price was largely a result of increased inventory, which jumped 43 percent to 2,500 units.

To sweeten the deal for renters, Brooklyn landlords continued to offer concessions in August, even though the month is not one that’s big for concessions since it tends to be a busy time of year for new leases.

More than 10 percent of all new transactions offered a month’s free rent or the owner paying the broker’s fee — up from 5 percent the year before, according to the Elliman report.

The share of deals with concessions was even greater in Manhattan, where 12 percent of deals had some sort of sweetener, up from about 7 percent the year before.

Manhattan’s median rent was flat at $3,399 a month, remaining unchanged from a year ago, as the borough also saw an uptick in inventory. There were nearly 7,500 listings, up nearly 40 percent from the year before.

And while Brooklyn and Manhattan both saw a spike in leasing activity — the highest in the past 8 years, according to Miller — the demand remained less than the supply.

“Inventory is outpacing demand, which is keeping prices flat or going negative,” Miller said. “That’s why we have concessions up year-over-year.”