Average residential rents in Manhattan are closing in on the all-time high prices reached before the Great Recession struck, according to recent market reports by Citi Habitats and MNS Real Estate.

Both reports found relatively small price increases in February 2012 when compared to the previous month, but year-over-year increases were robust. For instance, MNS found that the average price of a two-bedroom, non-doorman apartment was $4,212 last month, up 10.5 percent from February 2011.

Citi Habitats found that the only month-to-month decrease in average prices was for studio apartments, down to $1,936 from $1,967 in January, a drop of about 2 percent.

Prices stayed strong through what is generally the slowest period of the year, possibly because of the warm weather, Citi Habitats president Gary Malin told Real Estate Weekly last week, and the only real question is whether the trend will continue or accelerate into the warmer months.

MNS suggested in its report that the best deals for renters are available in upper Manhattan, where prices have increased about 4.6 percent, as opposed to rent growth as high as 7.6 percent in middle and lower Manhattan. Or hey, maybe you can nab the holy grail — a rent-controlled apartment. Some of those go for about $55 a month, we’ve heard.

As far as brokers are concerned, the latest reports only underscore the opportunities available in the rental market to build a thriving business, particularly as sales remain relatively sluggish.