April 17, 2017

San Francisco rents drop back to 2015 levels

Which seems like good news, although at the time we called it a “rent apocalypse”

Spring may have sprung but the price of an apartment in San Francisco stayed mostly where it was over the last four weeks, with almost all of the data keeping the city firmly entrenched as the most expensive place to rent in the country.

In fact, peering at the numbers a little more closely reveals that the price of an apartment now, by and large, matches that of two years ago, the terrifying peaks experienced since then having petered out. (Albeit leaving a still intimidating figure in their place.)

Three rental sites released analyses of the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco since Friday. On Zumper, a San Francisco apartment inched up 1.5 percent since February to $3,320/month.

(Although since that’s still down 7.5 percent year over year, it qualifies as good news if squinted at from the right angle.)

ApartmentList reports a figure of $3,470/month, which is actually down a bit from the previous month, although since the decline is only 0.8 percent and a few dollars it amounts to not much at all. The year-over-year decline is one percent.


And Abodo says that prices dropped even more, tipping to $3,470/month, down 1.45 percent month over month to form an almost perfect inversion of Zumper’s analysis. (No year over year figure is available for the site’s metrics.)

Earlier in the month, RENTCafe reported that San Francisco’s still-absurd median apartment rent of $3,360/month was at least behind New York City, something that’s only happened a handful of times since 2014.

All told, a median price of between $3,300-$3,500/month for a San Francisco apartment remains the new normal.

Which means that these prices are basically interchangeable with those from two years ago. Zumper big drop of 7.5 percent since 2016 is only about a 2.3 percent drop from the same month in 2015, when the average was $3,400, roughly in the middle of the current field of numbers.

Of course, back then these sorts of prices represented “a rental apocalypse,” which at the time was “making us retroactively feel like fools caught trying to plot out the end times on a Roman calendar.”

Back then, it was hard to imagine that similar figures might one day be interpreted as some strain of good news, however dissatisfying. But that day is here.


Back to top