The median rental price in Manhattan, including concessions, was $3,036 a month in September, according to the brokerage Douglas Elliman. That is an 11 percent drop from the same period a year ago, but still far beyond the means of most New Yorkers. Citywide, the median rent last year was $1,467 a month, according to the New York University Furman Center.
Rents will continue to drop citywide, in the absence of a vaccine, Ms. Wu said, but that trend masks affordability problems in several neighborhoods hit hard by the coronavirus.
In an analysis of neighborhoods with the lowest rates of infection — affluent neighborhoods like Battery Park City and SoHo in Manhattan — rents dropped 1.9 percent from February to July, largely because of rising vacancies. In the hardest hit neighborhoods — including East Elmhurst in Queens and Fordham in the Bronx — rents have actually increased 0.3 percent in the same period, and a disproportionate share of Black and Hispanic renters, many in the service industries, have shouldered that burden.
“New York has been a tale of two cities — not just in terms of the pandemic, which is known, but also with rent affordability,” Ms. Wu said, noting the dearth of options on the lower end of the market.
In sales, the boroughs beyond Manhattan are expected to recover sooner, because they are relatively less expensive, and proximity to Midtown is no longer a top priority. In August, Brooklyn exceeded the pace of sales recorded the same time last year, and Queens is on a similar but slower trajectory, according to StreetEasy.
Discounts of under 10 percent are widespread, but prices have yet to plummet, except in the ultraluxury tier. Buyers waiting for fire sale prices may be disappointed, because the market was already three years into a price correction before Covid-19, Ms. Wu said.
It is less clear what will happen in the saturated new-development market. Out of more than 20,000 condo units citywide that have come to market since 2018, nearly 60 percent remain unsold, said Kael Goodman, the chief executive of Marketproof, a real estate data company. That represents $33 billion of unsold apartments, and about 2,000 of those units have not yet even begun sales.