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With rising rents, New Yorkers do the math

Balancing at their rent bills, more New Yorkers are being forced to confront that age-old question, should I rent, or does buying make more sense?

world Updated: Aug 19, 2012 21:25 IST
Michelle Higgins

Balancing at their rent bills, more New Yorkers are being forced to confront that age-old question, should I rent, or does buying make more sense?

In many cases, the hard numbers point toward the latter. The average Manhattan apartment rented for a record $3,459 in July, according to Citi Habitats, which called the price the highest since it began tracking rents in 2002. And with the vacancy rate hovering around 1%, landlords aren’t willing to cut deals.

By contrast apartments for sale have held relatively steady in price from the start of the year and are down from the market peak in 2008. Combine that with low interest rates, and the cost of buying an apartment is about the same, if not cheaper on a monthly basis in many neighbourhoods, than the cost of renting. But making the leap to home ownership is complicated by tough lending standards, the often hefty down payments and other obstacles that would-be buyers must clear in order to break into the New York market. And even if you clear all the hurdles, there are often trade-offs.

Take Casey Galegher and Van Krishnamoorthy, who recently spent $699,000 on a two-bedroom condo in Harlem, after a year living in a one-bedroom rental on the Upper West Side with their 5-year-old son, Finn. But meanwhile they are getting more space and amenities for their money, paying about $4,900 a month for their brand-new 1,400-square-foot condo. On the Upper West Side, “we couldn’t get an elevator building in our price range,” said Dr Krishnamoorthy, a radiologist, noting that a two-bedroom in a doorman building across the street from their former rental was listed at $7,000 a month. NYT