Great news for Manhattanites looking to save a few bucks on their next apartment: according to a new report, rents in 40 percent of the market saw a slight downturn last year. Which 40 percent? Why, the top 40 percent, of course.
The news, published in a study by brokerage firm Douglas Elliman and first reported by DNAinfo, found that while rents in the bottom 60 percent of the market continue their unstoppable ascent, those at the top are beginning to dip. Calculated against the accepted wisdom that one should make about 40 times their monthly rent in yearly salary, that means people who earn $148,000 or more will see a slight easement in their cost of living, DNAinfo found.
The city becoming more convenient for the rich and less tenable for the poor isn’t the product of some conspiracy; it’s just the churn of the market at work. Money-hungry developers are building more high-end apartments than the city actually needs, and, finding that there aren’t enough people willing to pay for them, they’re bringing down the price in hopes of finding tenants.
The dip in upmarket housing prices “speaks to an affordability threshold,” a Douglas Elliman spokesperson told DNAinfo. Because of the glut of luxury development, it just so happens that rich people are hitting that threshold first, unfortunately for the rest of us. In theory, however, building more housing of any kind—even luxury housing— causes rent to grow more slowly over the entire market, so it’s possible that cheaper units will hit a similar threshold down the line.
The solution? There isn’t one, really. Keep building market-rate housing to increase supply and bring down prices, yes, but also continue to incentivize or outright compel developers to build units that regular people can actually pay for. Expensive housing construction can be good for the working class, but affordable housing construction is even better.