Apartment vacancies have hit a 23-year high, as rampant unemployment continues to drive down demand, according to a New York real-estate research firm. That’s brought rents down an average 2.7% compared to last year—and the 7.8% vacancy rate is expected to climb. “The experience was night-and-day different” from years past, says one New York City renter, whose new landlord tossed in a free first month. “Renters are the ones with the power.”
Usually the second and third quarters are renters’ strongest months, but this year “vacancies just continued rising,” a researcher said. Unemployment, which is closely tied to rent, stands at 9.8%, but it’s even worse among those under 35, who are more likely to rent. The effect was particularly pronounced in places like Tacoma, San Jose, and Raleigh.