NEW YORK - Olivia Bibilonia is fulfilling a long time dream, a promotion and transfer from Florida to New York City.
“It’s exciting to move to a different city,” she said.
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However, COVID-19 prevented her from visiting the city and picking an apartment in person. She signed the lease, sight unseen, and moves next month.
“I’ve seen it in a video in pictures but with my own eyes I have not,” she explained. “I hope it’s fabulous. I hope its bigger than I think it is, but I’m also realistic and I know that it’s probably not going to be as big.”
“There’s a lot more than goes into it when you’re describing what the apartment feels like,” her Real Estate Broker, Melinda Sicari from Douglas Elliman Real Estate told NY1 News.
Sicari says she’s closed on four apartments virtually using pictures and video since the pandemic pause went into effect without those clients ever setting eyes on the buildings.
“We’re following the government mandate, not allowing physical showings so we’re doing the best we can um with what we have,” Sicari said.
“People are more comfortable looking at a new property in person,” appraiser and statistician Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Inc. told NY1.
Miller's research for Douglas Elliman Real Estate shows the number of new listing leases signed in April dropped by a record percentage in Manhattan (70.9% and nearly by as much in Brooklyn (66.8%) and Queens (64.9%).
“The default is just stay put as long as you can," said Miller.
A growing number of deals are renewals between tenants and landlords in private. Miller explained, many of them are renting places at the lower end of studios and one bedrooms, so the more expensive apartments are the ones going to the public “new listing market.” It skews the data and that’s why this April saw record average rental prices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
“It’s showing prices rising, but really that’s not what’s happening,” said Miller, “it’s just a big shift in the mix of what’s out there.”
Olivia Bibilonia hopes she got a deal paying $2,750 a month for a fifth floor walk up in Hell’s Kitchen.
“It was the nicest one that I could semi-afford, key word semi, because the cost of living is crazy and I’m just telling myself I got a good deal to make myself feel better, but at the end of the day I’m sure they’re still winning” Bibilonia said.
She’ll find out June 1st. Anecdotally there are deals to be had and Miller says of all those people renewing with their landlords, many of them are getting breaks as well.