Let It Zoom While Sitting In The Housing Waiting Room

Clearly, The Beatles were the pioneers of Zoom meetings.

But I digress…

The NYC rental market saw a record drop in new leasing activity

I’ve been the author of an expanding and independently prepared market report series for Douglas Elliman in more than 35 U.S.housing markets for more than 25 years.

Douglas Elliman published our Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens Rental report for April and the post-Covid-19 world began to show its face in the data, but not all of it.

Elliman Report: Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rentals April 2020

Rents are only ticking up due to the plunge in new leasing. We only see the public-facing side and not the renewal side for now until the brokerage community is allowed to physically show properties. Essentially the drop in new leases means that renewals have surged – the act of a tenant approaching a landlord for a deal makes the transaction a renewal and is not visible in the data. The landlord and tenant are trapped to work with each other since going elsewhere are not practical until shelter in place laws ease. Rents are being negotiated lower but it is not quantifiable yet because landlords never share their data – it’s their secret sauce.

Much of the destruction of the economy has been skewed towards lower-wage earners – hourly workers and the gig economy has been harder his than middle-level salaried positions so far. As a result, the lower end of the rental market by apartment type has been removed from public view via renewals. When we compare the much smaller new leasing segment remaining against last year’s full distribution, prices and price trends jump to record levels…but prices aren’t rising.

The Real Deal coverage of the Elliman Report for NYC rentals emphasizes a good point about the data:

Looking at the April data, he emphasized that “what we’re seeing publicly is not representative of a normal market.” The true story of New York City’s rental market “is being dealt with on the renewal side in private,” he said.

Bloomberg published a story on the report results and apparently Wall Streeters are obsessed about the rental market. The story was the third most-read yesterday morning on the terminals with ±350K subscribers worldwide.

And of course, because I can never get enough charts, there was a compelling chart in that story and another version of it used elsewhere on the web site:


“New leasing activity declined at record rates due to the COVID-19 shutdown, while the market share of lease renewals surged as tenants sought relief.”

– The lowest total of new leases recorded in a decade and most significant percent decline ever recorded
– The highest net effective median, average and average per square foot rent ever recorded
– The highest April vacancy rate recorded in at least fourteen years
– The median rent for 1-bedroom has reached a new record high in six of the past twelve months
– The luxury market continued to see slightly lower use of concessions than the non-luxury market
– The price entry threshold has not seen a decline in sixteen straight months


“Renewal leasing activity surged in response to the sharp drop in new leasing activity caused by COVID-19 shelter in place rules, skewing aggregate new leasing price trends higher.”

– All overall rental price trend indicators rose annually for the twenty-second straight month
– Net effective median rent for new development reached a new record
– Face and net effective median rent set new records this month by apartment size


[Northwest Region] “The record decline in new leasing activity due to the Coronavirus crisis indicated that renewal activity was where the weakness in rental price trends could be found.”

– The number of new leases fell year over year by the most significant percentage tracked in over seven years
– The second record average face rent reached in three months
– The lowest market share of new development leases in four and a half years

Bad Hair Day: NY1 Takes On The ‘How’s The Market’ Question By Using A Virtual Rental Example

Michael Herzenberg of NY1 captures the proper nuances of the current NYC rental market using the Elliman Report and an example of a virtual rental deal on a day where my own hair was out of control.

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Discussing The Urban to Suburban Hoopla On Bloomberg Radio

This morning I spoke with Lisa Abramowicz and Paul Sweeney on the impact to cities, especially New York City, on the other side of the crisis.

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Hey, I’m Trying This New Forbes Thing

Can you support me by following me? Just click “follow” under my name at the top of this page.

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My First Forbes Article: The Overstated COVID-19 Blame On Urban Density In Favor Of Suburban Living

Here’s a link to my first Forbes article – I was drawn to writing about this topic after seeing the following NYC map of the COVID-19 cases and the constant drum of “density” as the primary reason for the NYC outbreak.

And then the NYT Upshot further supports the premise that there are other factors at work herein The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City.

But here is some compelling commentary to the contrary from City Observatory: City Beat: No evidence that people are fleeing to the suburbs.

There’s one more thing to keep in mind regarding the pandemic: Not only is their precious little evidence here or globally that density is a key factor in susceptibility to the pandemic, the New York Times’ own data show that in the New York metropolitan area, the prevalence of Covid-19 has actually been higher in the suburbs than in New York City. Suburban Rockland and Westchester counties have rates of infection that are roughly 50 percent higher than in New York City:

NYFed: The Coronavirus Shock Looks More like a Natural Disaster than a Cyclical Downturn

And to drill deeper, the Coronavirus looks like Katrina using U.S. initial weekly jobless claims.

My Colleagues’ ‘Hanks to Banks’ Virus Demarcation Line Story Made It To Vanity Fair

I blogged about this a few weeks ago in Establishing the COVID-19 Demarcation Line: From ‘Hanks To Banks’.

Well the ‘Hanks to Banks’ reference made it to Vanity Fair in Helicopter Deliveries, Landscaper Shortages: In the Hamptons, the Coronavirus Summer Is Going to Be InsaneHelicopter Deliveries, Landscaper Shortages: In the Hamptons, the Coronavirus Summer Is Going to Be Insane

Speaking of insane, this “J” is massive.

Upcoming Speaking Events


(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

Adam Johnston discusses residential appraisal virtual inspections and the potential pitfalls

My friend and colleague Adam Johnston has a residential appraisal background and is the chief appraiser of Genworth Mortgage Insurance. He was the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Appraisal Foundation, a former marine, police officer, and home inspector, plus a black belt…and a former recurring guest blogger on my Matrix Blog I launched in August 2005.

In other words, Adam is knowledgeable, clear, articulate, and not to be messed with! and I encourage all my Appraiserville readers to take time to listen to this and share the heck out of it.

OFT (One Final Thought)

We are all sitting in the Waiting Room right now.

Fugazi of the late 80s took over from The Clash of the late 70s as kings of Punk (IMHO). The pulse of the base is hard to get out of my head each time I hear this song along with the lyrics.

View this post on Instagram

#Fugazi #WaitingRoom #PunkersTV

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Brilliant Idea #1

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– They’ll be sitting in the waiting room;
– You’ll rent;
– And I’ll continue to Zoom like the Beatles.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog

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