With the weighted average asking price of renting an apartment in San Francisco already down over 10 percent on a year-over-year basis and continuing to drop, the average price for renting “a room” in San Francisco has just slipped to under $1,600 month.

For the purposes of our analysis, we consider a studio to be a single room, a one-bedroom to have two, a two-bedroom to have three, and so on and so forth, as have plenty of roommates over the past couple of years.

And as such, the average asking price per room is down 16 percent from a peak of nearly $1,900 a month in the fourth quarter of 2015 (at which point a room was over 70 percent more expensive in San Francisco versus Oakland, a premium which had dropped to an average of around 50 percent over the past year and under 45 percent over the past couple of weeks (but is poised to start ticking back up).

But as we’re working with asking rents, the current $1,600 a month figure doesn’t account for any additional concessions beyond a reduced rack rate (such as a couple months of free rent and/or a $2,000 gift card).

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Dave

    This makes sense as many rented rooms are occupied by college students. With the pandemic and the uncertain status of how classes will be delivered in the fall, out of region students have bailed. The Peets I frequent had many baristas going to SF State. About a third have relocated back home. A home rented out down the street from me – each bedroom rented to non-related tenant – has lost two of its three tenants. Both were college students. The owner has so far been unable to re-rent the rooms.

    • Posted by sparky-b

      I thought you decamped to Seattle 2 years ago?

      • Posted by Dave

        No. I have residential rental properties in the NW but am stuck in SF for the by and by as as my job is here. Still living on the slopes of Mt. Davidson.

        • Posted by sparky-b

          Oh, so you are going to the West Portal peets and are saying that 1/3 of the baristas were regulars and students and have changed and not just for summer/graduation/transfer/new job??

          • Posted by Notcom

            Yeah, not to impugn either Dave’s sampling skills or SF State, but the latter doesn’t strike me as a mecca for “out-of-region” students…unless the “region” is the two or three counties around it.

    • Posted by sfcommie

      I don’t think per-room price is about subletting or boarding. It is the room-weighted average, as to sf-weighted average. Room-weighted average being down more than sf-weighted average must mean that the price of more-rooms units are down more than fewer-rooms units in terms of percentage.

  2. Posted by Panhandle Pro

    If you’ve been living with roommates, this is a phenomenal time to upgrade to a studio or 1 BR.

    • Posted by Kyle S.

      How many people living with roommates in SF still have jobs that are paying them enough to upgrade to a studio?

      I mean, I do know a few well-compensated folks who choose to live with roommates. But this demographic is at greater risk of having been hit by layoffs or reduced hours.

      • Posted by Panhandle Pro

        There are a lot of 20-something tech workers who make a healthy salary and pay ~$1500-$2000 for a room, which is bonkers but true. Some had a roommate bail back to their hometown. If they can snap up a studio for $2200 I bet many do.

        • Posted by jimbo

          why studios? 1-bedroom in SOMA for $2200 will be commonplace soon

        • Posted by Freeloader

          I have a friend who was paying half of $6500 for a very nice 2 bedroom, shared with a 20 something investment banker. During the pandemic she moved across the street to The Harrison and now pays $4K+ for a 1 bedroom

  3. Posted by diane gu

    I noticed price, in addition to rent, has dropped too… I am actually looking forward to being able to buy in the next year or so, without having to compete with 10 other offers….

  4. Posted by wilson

    Not sure how one tracks the movements of former Peets baristas or how representative they are of the overall market. But there is a growing amount of data that supports the anecdotes of an increase in urban flight post-COVID. In addition to cellphone tracking data showing that people have physically left urban areas, the Times looked at census response rates, amount of garbage collected and mail forwarding data to confirm that people are actually leaving New York.

    I didn’t realize that mail forwarding data was public. That is an interesting data set because while cell phone location tracking shows that people physically left, forwarding mail shows an intent to be gone for more then a transitory period of time. Wonder if the SocketSite editor or some enterprising reader could look at that data for SF. With a name & address if you combined that with property records you could estimate what portion of those leaving are owners vs renters.

    • Posted by sparky-b

      Anecdotally, I had 2 friends move back to NYC this week after extended Covid decamping. So who knows what permanent trends are.

      The barista tracking of anyone at a CSU can’t be very accurate as it has been know for months that they would be online in the fall. So is the students not in SF data any different than the not in Chico data? For that matter how many more recent HS graduates will be in SF this fall instead of off at college? The college age demographic can’t be a good way to track urban flight.

      • Posted by Michael

        Demand has dropped off a cliff. I know of two different master tenants that are giving up the houses they’ve leased since the dot-com days and moving out of town because they can’t fill any of their vacant rooms – which has never happened before – and both can work remotely.

      • Posted by Dave

        The “barista index” is but one of many indicators. Hopefully Bloomberg will start tracking it (LOL). Still it is one measure.

        The baristas that moved out of SF, the ones I knew, were from San Diego, Sacramento and the Foothills. Not out of state but still these folks (all but one) rented a room in a home. HS students may not go off to college this fall from SF but they will also not be moving into the rooms those students who left SF had occupied. They will remain at home and hopefully get a job as a barista or whatever to earn some bucks.

        • Posted by sparky-b

          That will be as true for say University Of Washington as it is for SF State.

          • Posted by filbert

            Not [according to] Fortune magazine: “And while the number of Americans fleeing cities appears to be more of a trickle than a flood, there is an exception: San Francisco. According to Zumper’s data, the average rent in the city has plunged by 11% this year, a figure that Georgiades describes as “staggering.” He says that the narrative of a flight from the pandemic is more true in the Bay Area than anywhere else in the country. The reason, he claims, is that tech companies are more inclined to embrace remote work both in the short term and long term—leading many workers, including some of the more than 40,000 employees at Facebook—to leave the Bay Area altogether.”

  5. Posted by sparky-b

    is barista a remote work tech job?

    • Posted by Hmmm

      Fewer techies equals fewer lattes equals fewer baristas.

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