(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan apartment hunters hoping for a significant break in rents may have a long wait ahead of them. 

The median rent on new leases signed in December was $4,050 — virtually unchanged from a year earlier and up 1.3% from November, appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate reported Thursday. It was the first month-over-month increase since July, in a season when rents typically are expected to decline. 

Leasing surged for the second month in a row, with deals jumping 14% from December 2022, a sign of continued high demand that has kept the market competitive.

While rents have slipped from their record highs reached last summer, and the supply of apartments has been climbing, it hasn’t been enough to bring New Yorkers the relief that would generally come in the winter months. A period without sharp rent increases may be the best they’ll see for some time, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel.

“The era of very steep trajectories in rents is over,” Miller said. “Even though they’ve come down from the summer peak, rents are still elevated. We’re coming out of a frenzy period and transitioning into one of stability.” 

Rising vacancies and more choices for renters may be keeping a lid on costs. Manhattan’s vacancy rate reached 3.42% last month, the highest level since July 2021, the firms reported. Listing inventory was up 33% from a year earlier to 7,621 units.  

However, that’s still historically low, according to Miller, who said the share of leases with bidding wars held steady last month at around 15%. 

“We wouldn’t be having bidding wars if supply was adequate,” he said.

While Miller doesn’t anticipate a dramatic price correction any time soon, some small decreases may be on the way. Lower mortgage rates will help some renters finally take the plunge into homebuying, which in turn would take some pressure off the leasing market, he said. 

Rents in Manhattan remain much higher than pre-pandemic levels. December’s median was up 16% from the same month in 2019, when it was $3,499. 

Outer boroughs are also seeing robust demand. New leases more than doubled from a year earlier in Brooklyn, where the median rent increased annually for the 24th time, to $3,469. In northwest Queens — the neighborhoods closest to Manhattan — leasing rose from a year earlier at the highest rate in 21 months. The median rent there was $3,485, up 24% from the prior December.

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