Presented By: The Moinian Group
The Moinian Group Sees Unexpected Rental Demand at an Unlikely Time
In the midst of the global covid-19 pandemic, residential rental turnover throughout the United States has hit its lowest levels in more than 20 years, with the country on lockdown.
But The Moinian Group, one of the largest privately-held real estate groups in the U.S., has seen a surprisingly strong uptick in rental activity while people have been hunkering down at home. In fact, one of The Moinian Group’s Manhattan luxury rental buildings saw as much as a new lease a day throughout the month of May.
While certainly pleased with the level of activity, The Moinian Group had not anticipated such a strong leasing environment given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.
“Honestly, we didn’t think there was going to be much rental activity, at least in the near term,” said Jacob Entel, Director of Residential Properties for The Moinian Group. “During New York City’s stay-at-home order, we assumed that most renters would either renew or extend leases in their current apartments, or leave the city because of work-from-home mandates. While a priority even up until just a few months ago, commuting to their offices was no longer necessary. Our expectations regarding leasing activity were low.”
But as New York City emerged from the April peak in covid-19 transmissions, The Moinian Group adjusted its approach to reaching new and existing tenants. They launched a new website, and increased their longtime use of 3D space tours, virtual staging, and cloud-based CRM and management tools.
This combination of techniques enabled renters — seeking roomier accommodations with upgraded amenities — to get a complete sense of prospective apartments from the comfort and safety of their homes.
“We’re always looking to implement new technology that improves both our renters’ and agents’ experience. When real-world conditions forced all leasing efforts to be handled remotely we did not have to scramble in order to continue renting apartments,” Entel said.
The Moinian Group’s new website, which rolled out early this year, was custom built for the best possible user experience. Renters looking for apartments can browse The Moinian Group’s entire portfolio in real time and filter listings based on specific criteria. Once a renter finds a unit they are interested in, they are then able to take a 3D tour, request virtual showing, and even apply online.”
Virtual staging augments photos of an empty rental unit with virtual furniture that looks indistinguishable from a furnished residence. This tech-based system helps renters understand a sense of scale, which is difficult to appreciate from the photograph of an empty apartment. Making the approach even more appealing is the 3D functionality, which allows renters to take an immersive apartment tour —getting a complete and visceral sense of the apartment’s look, feel, and depth — without having to visit the unit.
“Virtual tours are shot with a 3D camera, and walk clients through the apartment,” Entel said. “When you’re on a 3D tour you can move around the unit and spin 360 degrees, so you can see every part of the apartment as if you’re walking through it in person. Of course, people typically want to come to the building and see the apartment before making a decision, but they feel comfortable enough renting sight unseen with this technology.”
Several of The Moinian Group’s residential properties that saw a robust May for new leases are uniquely positioned for this moment, including PLG, a 467-unit, 26-story residential rental property in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, at 123 Linden Blvd.
“The area around PLG is not densely populated, which makes it easier for residents to move,” Entel said. “PLG’s biggest competitive advantage is its superior quality at lower prices when compared with other luxury buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. During this financially uncertain time people are looking to bring expenses down, but do not want to sacrifice quality of life. We’ve been signing at least one lease a day there, which is a very good sign.”
The Moinian Group’s Marc, at 260 West 54th Street in Manhattan, is another luxury rental building ripe for the moment.
“Marc has been doing really well for two main reasons,” Entel said. “One, because its close proximity to Midtown, and two, the units are a bit larger than those in the new developments in the area. Renters are looking for apartments with a bonus space for dining, home offices, or exercise.”
The Moinian Group is also seeing significant rental demand at Sky, the largest residential rental building in New York City and the largest single tower residential development in the US at 605 West 42nd Street, and at The Moinian Group’s Oskar at 572 11th Avenue.
“Oskar is a boutique building with large residences and fewer availabilities, which is driving demand,” Entel said. “We’re also seeing increased traffic at Sky, because it’s also on 11th Avenue near the Hudson River, a part of the city that’s less densely populated,. Plus, we have a large parking garage for residents.”
Also helping strengthen The Moinian Group’s rental portfolio is the company’s focus on luxury amenities, which have made their buildings more appealing to people whose current purpose is finding a comfortable and sizable home, and hunkering down while the pandemic runs its course.
PLG has more than 50,000 square feet of amenities including indoor and outdoor swimming pools and fitness areas, a steam room and sauna, a half-court basketball court, a co-working lounge, and on-site parking. The expansive amenity spaces are particularly appealing today as they allow for social distancing. The outdoor amenities in particular help make a trying time in New York that much more bearable.
“Residents don’t want to stay in their apartments all day,” Entel said. “There’s plenty of space for each resident to enjoy the amenities and, following the prescribed protocols from health leaders, can feel safe doing it.”
The Moinian Group’s residential properties also provide access to the city’s greatest outdoor spaces. Ocean, the company’s property at 1 West Street, is directly across the street from Battery Park and the Hudson River. Marc is just blocks away from Central Park, and Sky and Oskar are along Hudson River Park.
The Moinian Group’s rental business has remained in line this year so far with pre-Covid-19 average monthly activity, although the traditional summer peak may not be felt until the fall. But thanks to forward-thinking investments in technology, The Moinian Group has been able to provide skittish renters with ways to find new, appealing places to live in a safe, secure manner at a time when the comforts of home feel more important than ever.