By Shelly Banjo in the Wall Street Journal
Manhattan renters have fewer apartments to choose from these days.
In January, Manhattan vacancy rates dropped for the first time in six months to 1.26% from 1.34% in December, real-estate brokerage firm CitiHabitats said in a monthly report.
In another sign the rental market is starting to tighten up there were 26% fewer vacant apartments on the market last month than during the same period last year, says CitiHabitats President Gary Malin.
In the city’s most competitive neighborhoods, the West Village and SoHo/TriBeCa, vacancy rates dropped to 0.61% and 0.65%, respectively.
But brokers say the tight market is likely to ease up a bit. Nearly a dozen new rental buildings with 2,500 units will hit the market in 2011, including the recently opened 53-story Continental on Sixth Avenue and the Financial District’s New York by Gehry, which will open next month.
“These units are attracting people who are choosing to rent as they wait to figure out the sales market but who still want to live in high style,” Mr. Malin says.
In January rents continued to increase: Year-over-year, rental rates went up by 7% for studios, 8% for one- and two bedroom apartments and 9.5% for three-bedrooms.