While Rents Keep Declining, Signed Leases Rise in Brooklyn

Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Photo by Susan De Vries

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    While a surge of newcomers has not yet come to replace those who left Brooklyn during the early months of the pandemic, trends in the rental market suggest that those who stayed are moving around.

    Rents fell all over Brooklyn during the previous year. But at the same time, the borough also saw the highest number of new rental lease signings since at least 2008, according to a report prepared by appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel and published by Douglas Elliman this morning.

    For example: in February, the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn was $2,625, a drop of 11.4 percent, or $397, from the average rental price of $2,962 in February 2020. Average rent per square foot was $46.25 in February, a drop of 8.6 percent from $50.59 the year prior.

    But looking at the number of new leases for one-bedroom apartments signed in the same period shows a different trajectory: last month, 701 new leases for one-bedrooms were signed, which was a leap of 133.7 percent over the 300 leases signed in February 2020.

    park slope brooklyn

    Park Slope. Photo by Susan De Vries

    The shift in new lease signings seems to be happening quickly, especially for smaller units. Seventy-six more leases for studio apartments were signed in February 2021 over the previous month, while 127 leases for one-bedroom apartments were signed in February over the previous month.

    And while rents are currently down, the report shows they are ticking back up toward pre-pandemic levels. Average rental prices for a studio apartment increased by $146 between January and February, while one-bedrooms increased by an average of $48.

    At the same time, the average rental price of two-bedroom apartments rose by $106, with three-bedroom apartments growing by $554 during the same period.

    Is this a sign that things are turning back to where they were pre-pandemic? Or does it show continued instability?

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