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NYC realtors pull out new trick as $15 congestion pricing is set to take its toll on motorists

Realtors in the Big Apple’s cut-throat housing market are citing the controversy over congestion pricing in their pitch to sell and rent apartments in Manhattan outside zones where the toll will be imposed.

Glenn Barnett of Nest Seekers sends out listings with the heading “Avoid Congestion Pricing.”

“I do get a better response. People are curious,” Barnett said in a recent interview with The Post. “There are a million listings that say, ‘Great Views.’ Let’s do something different. It can’t hurt.”

New York City realtors have been using the planned congestion pricing to market apartments outside of the toll zone. StreetEasy
New York City realtors have been using the planned congestion pricing to market apartments outside of the toll zone. StreetEasy

He recently marketed a one-bedroom pad at 340 E. 93rd St. near First Avenue with the “Avoid Congestion Pricing” pitch.

The upcoming expected $15 toll will be charged to motorists entering the Midtown congestion zone south of 60th Street.

Only residents who live in the congestion zone and make less than $50,000 annually will be able to rebate their toll bill against their income tax, leaving out many apartment-hunters in Manhattan’s notoriously costly real-estate market.

“If you’re in the housing market, it will give you food for thought,” Barnett said of the new toll. “Life here is expensive enough.

A listing for an apartment at 340 E. 93rd St. near First Avenue included an “Avoid Congestion Pricing” pitch. StreetEasy
A listing for an apartment at 340 E. 93rd St. near First Avenue included an “Avoid Congestion Pricing” pitch. StreetEasy

“People are concerned. They want to know what congestion pricing is about. It’s very hard to drive in Manhattan right now.”

Barnett’s email blasts typically make their way to key real-estate sites such as Zillow and StreetEasy.

The MTA’s rollout of the $15 toll is fast-approaching — slated to kick off in mid-June after facing years of delays and a slew of lawsuits.

Transit officials predict that the toll could raise $1 billion per year, which would fund major upgrades to the MTA’s subway, commuter railroad and bus systems while getting people out of their cars and onto mass transit to curb traffic and air pollution.

Glenn Barnett of Nest Seekers said the congestion pricing message has improved responses for the apartments. Nest Seekers International
Glenn Barnett of Nest Seekers said the congestion pricing message has improved responses for the apartments. Nest Seekers International

But the toll — the nation’s first congestion pricing fee system — has provoked a furious backlash over its cost for driving commuters, including multiple lawsuits aimed at blocking it.

The plaintiffs include New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the city teachers union and New York politicians including Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.

Even former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who approved the law allowing congestion pricing in 2019, has flipped against it, citing changing circumstances in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congestion pricing is slated to begin in parts of Manhattan in June. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Congestion pricing is slated to begin in parts of Manhattan in June. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

His successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who backs the tolling plan, also even got an earful from New Jersey resident and TV and movie star Whoopi Goldberg during an appearance last week on ABC’s “The View.”

“If you know someone looking for a one-bedroom apartment, send them my way,” Barnett quipped.

MTA Communications Director Tim Minton said in an e-mailed statement Sunday to The Post, “The listing boasts the apartment is ‘close to all trains,’ and since 90% of commuters use mass transit it’s no surprise a broker would highlight that. So yes, take those trains and avoid congestion pricing.”