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It's taken as gospel that in the New York City real estate rental market, if you want to find a deal, you should look in the winter.
The summer spike in prices is such a well-known phenomenon that renters looking in the off-season often face longer-than-usual leases (16 months, for instance) from landlords hoping to get the lease up for renewal closer to June or July. But how much more can you really save if you hold off until the holidays to find a place?
RentHop just put together a report of seasonality in various urban rental markets across the United States, and the NYC chart looks just as you'd expect it to—prices ticking upwards by a few percentage points from the median in the summer, then dropping to their lowest points around December and January:
"The difference between July and January is nearly 4.5 percent: for a $3,100 one-bedroom apartment, that's about $140 a month," RentHop points out in their report. The reason for this rush? A flood of recent college grads tend to descend on the city at the beginning of every summer, as do "newly-minted investment bankers, management consultants, quantitative analysts, all starting work at the same time, many with their relocation fees paid by HR (including broker fees)," as RentHop puts it. On the flip side, demand slows way down in the fall and particularly in the winter, leading to lowered prices, and often, an increase in concessions such as a free month's rent or waived broker's fee.
Interestingly, the seasonal effect seems to be even more pronounced in Chicago, where the slowdown lasts from December all the way until June (blame their brutal winters?), and even in Los Angeles, there's a notable downturn in December and January, in spite of the fact that renters out there aren't facing the prospect of schlepping moving boxes over an ice-encrusted sidewalk.
"The takeaway is obvious," RentHop writes. "If you have the luxury of choosing when to move, absolutely avoid the summer rush." And there you have it.
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