Want to Buy a Home in NYC? Renting May Be a Better Bet

by Oshrat Carmiel

In much of Manhattan, it would take a decade or longer for buying an apartment to make financial sense over renting. It’s a different story in Brooklyn and Queens, where buying beats leasing in as little as 1.4 years.

That’s according to a second-quarter analysis by StreetEasy of the so-called tipping point, the time it would take for leasing costs to equal or exceed the cost of purchasing a comparable home.

Resale prices have come down in Manhattan, yet they’re still so high that renters may want to stay put. In Tribeca, where the median resale price is $3.2 million -- down 5% from a year earlier -- it would take 16 years of renting to equal or exceed the cost of buying. The tipping point jumps to 30 years on the Upper East Side.

“For potential buyers out there, they should view it as a warning flag,” said Grant Long, senior economist at StreetEasy. “There are a lot of expensive homes on the market and it’s hard to build a case for long-term price appreciation because there’s a lot of supply.”

In Brooklyn, buying beats renting in almost six years in Park Slope, and a little more than four years in Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant. For those venturing to Queens, the wait in the Jamaica neighborhood is only 1.4 years, the shortest tipping point in StreetEasy’s survey.

Interested in property hot spots across the pond? Visit our London real estate graphic →

Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens real estate at a glance
for the quarter ended :

Highest priced sale

Median home price

Change in price from last year

Click or tap on any neighborhood in the map to add it to the comparison charts below. Click or tap on any neighborhood name above to remove it.

Definition of Terms and Methodology

The sales data are based on condo, co-op, townhouse and single-family home transactions during the quarter, according to StreetEasy’s analysis of records from the New York City Department of Finance. Due to a delay between the closing date and when a sale is recorded by the Department of Finance, the data may not include all closings during the quarter.

Highest sale price
The highest sale price for all closed transactions in the quarter.

Median resale price
The middle price for homes with sales that closed in the quarter and had a prior recorded sale since 1995.

Median sale price, all homes
The middle price for all sales that closed in the quarter, including deals in new developments.

Price change
The percentage change in median price from the identical period in the previous year.

Median days on market
The middle value for the number of days from when a home was originally listed on StreetEasy to when it went under contract.

Sales count, all homes
The number of home sales that closed during the quarter.

Sales count, resales
The number of homes that sold in the quarter with a prior recorded sale since 1995.

Median asking rent
The middle advertised monthly price for rental homes listed on StreetEasy during the quarter.

Rental count
The number of properties listed for rent on StreetEasy during the quarter.

Tipping point
The time it would take for the accumulated costs of renting a home to equal or exceed the cost of buying and owning a comparable-size home in the same area. The calculation takes into account such homeownership costs as principal and interest payments on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, New York City taxes and the tax implications of selling a home, and such rental costs as renter’s insurance and the broker’s fee.

Listing discount
The median percentage change between the initial asking price listed on StreetEasy and the recorded sale price.

Share of sales listings with price cuts
The percentage of homes for which the list price on StreetEasy was reduced during the quarter.

Share of rentals discounted
The share of all active rental listings on StreetEasy that had a reduction in asking rent during the quarter.

Metrics with fewer than 10 examples in a neighborhood aren’t reported because more data are needed for an accurate representation. These are indicated as “NA”.