The novel coronavirus has triggered questions for renters and landlords around the world, and has caused nothing short of a panic, with people taking fast financial measures to protect themselves against any unexpected surprises. COVID has led to many people fleeing major cities to escape high rent, moving in with their parents or partners, and subletting their room in NYC.
We were interested in how coronavirus has affected the rental market in New York and across the states. As a roommate-finding app, we’re lucky enough to have access to unique data at our fingertips, and we were able to paint a picture of what’s changed – and where the rental market could be headed.
Let’s dive into the numbers.
The number of short-term Roomi listings has increased by 40% from April to May
The coronavirus period has seen many renters scrambling to get out of rigid leases, and Roomi’s statistics show that in May 2020, more users were recognising the value of short-term options. The number of listings for places with a duration of just 1-3 months jumped up 40% between April and May.
This could largely be due to leaseholders trying to temporarily cover rooms that were quickly vacated by housemates who had to relocate due to the virus. With landlords and leaseholders understanding that many people can’t commit to a long-term lease right now, it seems many are happy to fill rooms on a short-term basis instead.
The average rent in the US decreased by 22% between March and April
Tenants are paying less rent country-wide, with the average US rent decreasing as much as 22% between March and April. The most drastic drop of all here was in San Francisco, which saw a 33% decrease in average rent prices.
But rents are already bouncing back. The graph shows an upward trend beyond June 2020, so we don’t expect these low prices to be a permanent change.
Roomi’s shared room listings increased by 124% from March to May
Roomi listings can fall into one of three categories: private room, shared room or entire place. While private room listings are consistently our most popular, we did see the proportion of listings for shared rooms increase by 124% from March to May!
It’s no surprise that in the months leading up to May, people were reluctant to share a room with strangers. With the government’s social distancing measures and general fear of the unknown amongst us, most people were choosing to isolate with friends, partners and family members. Could the rise in shared room listings in May suggest we’re feeling ready to integrate with people again?
Roomi’s new users increased by 40% from April to May
With a worldwide boost of 40% in new sign-ups to the Roomi app from April to May, this suggests that people are back in the market for a home. As shops, schools, hospitality venues and workplaces reopen, it seems that renters around the world are ready to settle back into a new apartment.
More specifically, new users in New York City increased by 27%. The past few months saw New Yorkers heading out to suburbs and leaving many rooms unlived in. Now, however, it seems that people are coming back to the big apple and the city could be coming back to life.
Average rent in NYC took a very slight hit
Despite the pandemic, renters in NYC can still expect to pay high prices – sorry guys! As you can see by the graph, there was a small dip in NYC around March, but the contrast was much more subtle than the rest of the world.
Third party research carried out by StreetEasy found that there were 52% fewer rentals up for grabs in NYC in the second half of March, compared with the first half. Despite the drop in rental inventory, there was little reduction in rent costs, with only minimal changes in Q1. They also found that a large proportion of landlords were choosing to keep units off the rental market, as opposed to offering reduced rent or breaks in rent. This could be for a variety of reasons; our guess is that they were protecting their finances with the long-term in mind, or that they wanted to avoid contact with other people through viewings.
StreetEasy reports that the median rent in Manhattan in Q1 still stood at $3324 – a record high in StreetEasy’s Price Index.