San Francisco Rents Keep Dropping

One-bedroom rents are down nearly 25 percent in a year, and nearly 30 percent from their 2019 peak.

It’s a story that never gets old: San Francisco rents keep falling. 

Over the course of the year, the rent declines have been so substantial that the median two-bedroom apartment in the city is now renting for what the median one-bedroom was going for a year ago. 

In December, rents for one-bedroom apartments in San Francisco fell another 1.5 percent, to $2,660, down 24 percent year over year, according to data from the real estate analytics company Zumper. One-bedroom rents are now down 28.5 percent from a June 2019 peak of $3,720. Rents for two-bedroom apartments in the city fell 2 percent in December, to $3,500, and are now 22 percent lower than a year ago. 

These declines are mirrored in Silicon Valley cities like Mountain View, Menlo Park, and Redwood City, providing further evidence for the so-called “tech exodus” to places like Utah and Texas. Oakland has also seen a dramatic, 22 percent year-over-year decrease in median one-bedroom rents. One-bedroom rents in San Jose are down about 15 percent. Price declines for two-bedroom apartments have generally been lower than for one-bedrooms, as people seek more spacious digs. 

 

Year over year changes in one-bedroom rents (Zumper)

More affordable, outlying Bay Area suburbs, like Concord, Richmond, and Hayward have seen some of the lowest rent decreases. Milpitas is the only Bay Area city in the Zumper data to post a significant year-over-year price increase, with one-bedroom rents going up by 11 percent. The Silicon Valley town just north of San Jose welcomed a new BART station this year. 

San Francisco’s rents, while still the highest in the nation, are no longer such a dramatic outlier among other major cities. In January 2020, the city’s $3,500 median one-bedroom rent was $500 higher than New York City and almost $1,000 higher than Boston. In January 2021, SF one-bedroom rents are $250 higher than NYC and about $500 higher than Boston.

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