Photo: Robert Clark

NYC may one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, but many renters are getting a break on their rent as landlords dole out incentives in near record numbers to attract new tenants.

In fact, among the top 25 cities where the most landlords are offering incentives, NYC landed in the top three, according to a report released earlier this week by the listing site Zumper.

Landlord incentives are a tool used to attract new renters and are traditionally a period of free rent or reduced security deposits. However, landlords are increasingly going high-tech by offering Netflix subscriptions and Amazon gift cards. Incentives also help keep vacancy rates low by keeping units occupied.

To create an index of the top cities offering the best deals for renters, Zumper examined over 200,000 of its active listings for buildings offering a range of incentives and found the total percentage of “incentive listings” relative to the total number of listings in that city.

Winston-Salem, NC nabbed the top spot on the index, with a total of 6.81 percent of its listings offering incentives. Over the last year, construction in Winston-Salem reached its highest level in 15 years, giving “deal hunting renters increased power when searching for an apartment.”

With a 6.09 percent net share of all listings offering incentives, Lincoln, NE moved into the second spot on the index. The most prevalent landlord incentives found in Lincoln were free rent, reduced security deposits and more flexible lease terms, says Zumper.

The Big Apple rounded out the top three, with a net share of 5.52 percent of listings offering incentives. According to Zumper, the average rent in NYC was $2,900 in November — making it the second most expensive rental market in the country.

“After a rapid increase in prices over the past few years, new construction in NYC has finally reached a tipping point, giving renters more power to negotiate,” Zumper says in the report.

And while affordability continues to be a challenge for many New Yorkers, the majority of deals can be found in the new construction submarket, where some landlords are offering as much as two to three months of free rent as well as throwing in gifts cards and “other perks.”

“The most unique incentives unsurprisingly were offered in New York and San Francisco. One landlord in NYC offered Hamilton tickets to new tenants of particular units,” Zumper’s Director of Strategic Marketing Devin O’Brien tells BuzzBuzzNews.

Another common perk in larger cities is free Uber rides.

The average incentive in NYC is just over one month of free rent.

The other top cities for incentives were: Greensboro, NC, Des Moines, IA, Philadelphia, PA, El Paso, TX, Reno, NV, Portland, OR, and Wichita, KS.

Meantime, two other hot West Coast markets made the index — Seattle, WA (2.53 percent) and San Jose (1.62 percent), in the 12th position and 24th position, respectively.

While there were far fewer “large” cities on the index, that wasn’t necessarily surprising ro Zumper.

“Considering the amount of construction in these big cities, you would think that landlords would have to offer increased concessions. However, with migration patterns among younger professionals, it makes sense why some of these other hot markets wouldn’t require as many concessions given higher demand,” O’Brien tells BuzzBuzzNews.

Also, medium-sized cities with “speculative construction” now find themselves left with vacant new inventory sitting on the market, which leads to the higher level of incentives being seen in these cities.

Click here to read the entire report.

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