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As we suffer through the Covid-19 pandemic, housing vacancies have increased and lease renewals have decreased at unprecedented levels.

According to a recent study from Douglas Elliman, vacancies have jumped to 3.67 percent -- a 14-year high -- while new leases have declined by 35.6 percent.

These numbers should come as no surprise given media reports that NYC residents are leaving in droves. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Post Office received over 130,000 mail-forwarding requests from NYC addresses in March and April alone. The Hartford Courant reported in July that since March, 16,000 New Yorkers have permanently moved to Connecticut. In neighboring Westchester, home purchases rose by 50 percent in June.  The exodus has sprawled beyond the tri-state area. Fox Business reported that 28 percent of moves out of NYC between March and August were to Florida and California, and another 16 percent to Texas and North Carolina.

At least moving companies are reaping the benefits. United Van Lines advises that there was a 95 percent increase in moves out of Manhattan compared to last year. Elite Moving & Storing, a Yonkers based moving company, claimed 90 percent of relocations from Manhattan have been to suburbs. Based on increased demand, Oz Moving told Fox Business they experienced a 30 percent average quote increase.

Governor Cuomo has taken notice. “In the old days we used to talk about people leaving Manhattan if the situation got bad, if taxes went up, if quality of life deteriorated,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “They left. They left because of COVID.”

But many view Cuomo’s explanation as an over-simplification. Increased crime, drug activity, homelessness, a growing anti-business sentiment, combined with threats of rising taxes (for drastically reduced services), are also contributing to the flight.

Those who are brave enough top remain will reportedly get some consolation from lower rents and housing prices. Douglas Elliman notes that Manhattan median rent dropped 4.8 percent in June, the first month-to-month decline since 2018. As for buyers, StreetEasy reported Manhattan prices fell 4.2 percent year-over-year to $1,450,000, and homes are remaining on the market for a protracted timeframe -- a median of 144 days; 68 days longer than last year.