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The Line: The Latest on New York City's Housing Stock

Gregory Heym is Chief Economist at Brown Harris Stevens. His weekly series, The Line, covers new developments to the economy, including trends and forecasts. Read on for the latest report and subscribe here to receive The Line in your inbox.



New York City has released some of the initial findings of the 2021 Housing and Vacancy Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau every three years and used to determine if rent stabilization laws stay in place. If the vacancy rate goes above 5%, then the city is no longer in a "housing emergency" and rent regulations are removed. Since the survey found the overall rental vacancy rate was 4.54% last year, the regulations will stay in place.


While not all the data is available just yet, here are some of the more interesting bits released so far:


NYC had 3,644,000 housing units in 2021, about 175,000 more than 2017. (I know I said they do these every three years, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the 2020 report.) For occupied units, 69% were renter-occupied and 31% owner-occupied.


Here are some interesting breakdowns of the housing stock:





  • So, Brooklyn has the most units in NYC, with 30% of the total.

  • 56% of housing units are in buildings constructed before 1947.

  • 1-2 family buildings contain 26% of the city’s housing units, more than any other size.

One last interesting table from the report:


  • "Market rate" rental units comprise just 45% of the rental stock.

As more of the findings are released, I will share the most interesting ones here. If you want to read all 91 pages of the initial report, you can do so here.


Palm Beach Led All Counties in Wage Gains During 2021



I recently got some feedback that I wasn’t including enough about Florida in The Line. As luck would have it, this week I got an email from theBureau of Labor Statistics on employment and wage gains by county last year. They reported that wages grew by 15.6% in Palm Beach in 2021, the highest increase among the 343 largest counties in the U.S. Congrats to my friends down there; now I know how your housing market has remained so hot. If you’re wondering which county added the most jobs last year, it was Clark County, Nevada. I guess that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since Nevada casinos had a record $13.4 billion in revenue in 2021.


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