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Manhattan apartment rents fall most since 2014 in crowded market

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Apartment rents in Manhattan fell the most in almost four years as landlords made deeper price cuts to lure tenants in a market brimming with choices.

[NEW YORK] Apartment rents in Manhattan fell the most in almost four years as landlords made deeper price cuts to lure tenants in a market brimming with choices.

Landlords agreed to accept a median rent of US$3,295 last month, or 2.7 per cent less than the previous December, appraiser Miller Samuel Inc and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate said in a report Thursday. It was the biggest annual decline since February 2014, and only the second one last year.

After two years of propping up apartment prices with behind-the-scenes offers of free months and gift cards, owners contending with a flood of supply could no longer hold up the dam. They still offered sweeteners - last month, in 36 per cent of all new leases, a record share - but they also agreed to whittle what they charged in rents.

"The concessions were working for a while, but the consumer is now really pushing more on the negotiating side of the rents," said Hal Gavzie, who oversees leasing for Douglas Elliman.

"The price points needed somewhat of a correction."

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The cuts seem to have helped: The vacancy rate declined last month to 1.9 per cent, the lowest for a December in five years, the firms said.

After concessions such as free months and the payment of broker's fees are factored in, tenants paid a median of US$3,208, down 2.5 per cent from a year earlier. That decline was also the biggest since February 2014.

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