NYC Rents Fell More in 2020 Than During the Great Recession 

High angle, looking down view on illuminated brick apartment condo building architecture in Fordham Heights center, Bronx, NYC, Manhattan, New York City with fire escapes, windows.
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New York City rents have fallen more last year than they did during the Great Recession across all boroughs, driven by the pandemic, according to StreetEasy’s November 2020 Market Reports. And 2021 will also be a “long road to recovery.”

The report notes that Manhattan rents dropped the most out of the three boroughs analyzed — falling a whopping 12.7% year over year. In November 2020, the median asking rent in Manhattan reached a 10-year low of $2,800. During the Great Recession, Manhattan rents decreased by about 10%, according to StreetEasy.

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As for Brooklyn, rents dropped 6.3% year over year, and the median asking rent was $2,400. After the 2008 financial crisis, rents in Brooklyn fell by around 5%.

And Queens saw a 5.7% annual decline in rents in November. This was a record large drop for the borough, where rents remained relatively stable during the Great Recession. The median asking rent in November was $2,100.

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Pre-pandemic, NYC rents had been steadily rising for about a decade. But the economic fallout from COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on the market, the report notes.

“We expected the rental market to match the weakness seen during the Great Recession, but the fact that the market has surpassed that level in less than one year shows how serious the crisis caused by the pandemic has been,” StreetEasy Economist Nancy Wu said in the report. “The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and plenty of great rental deals will be the catalyst for many to return to the city, but we’re still a long way from the city’s return to normal. Until that happens, inventory will remain high and renters will continue to enjoy deals that were unheard of a year ago.”

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StreetEasy says that the road to recovery in 2021 will be slower and more difficult in New York City than in many parts of the country, as the city has been both the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and the epicenter of a national economic downturn. 

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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