Following the trend we first noticed forming twelve months ago, asking rents for apartments in San Francisco and Oakland have dropped over the past year.

In fact, based on a comparison of nearly 3,000 listings, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco (including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments) has dropped to around $4,100 a month, which is not only down around 3 percent over the past two months with typical seasonality in play, but also around 2 percent lower on a year-over-year basis and 8 percent below a peak in the fourth quarter of 2015.

At the same time, while the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in Oakland inched up a percent over the past two months to around $2,380 per month, it’s down around 5 percent from the middle of July and 10 percent lower versus the same time last year having dropped nearly 20 percent from its peak in the summer of 2016.

And as such, the premium for renting an apartment in San Francisco versus Oakland is currently running around 70 percent versus a below average 60 percent at the same time last year.

This may make it easier for those who have to ask how to get an apartment with no credit to get accommodation, but there will likely still be hurdles. Additionally, the prices are still very high compared to other areas of the country and state, likely due to the real estate reputation that the San Francisco area holds.

29 thoughts on “SF and Oakland Rents Down, Relative Premium Up”
    1. Speaking of dreaming on and out of touch, from the report to which you counterfactually link:

      “In Oakland, rents rose 5.4 percent from a year earlier to $1,780 for a one-bedroom and $2,240 for a two-bedroom, while San Francisco apartments inched up 1.6 percent to $2,450 for a one-bedroom and $3,080 for a two-bedroom.”

      But if those numbers sound right to you, you really should try asking someone who’s in the market and actually trying to rent a place.

        1. As a point of comparison, the data upon which our analysis is based pegs the current average list price for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco at closer to $4,500 per month.

          In addition, we don’t see the relative prices of one and two bedrooms, in either market, moving in lockstep with each other as suggested in the excerpt above.

      1. But….but….NASDAQ!

        If one goes to the actual source of the data for Merc story – …in other words, a small, non-random sample – one will see that the average for the 1 bedroom listings shown for Oakland is $2727; so I’ll have to go with the Control Voice on this one that the link doesn’t seem like a very good one to use.

        1. Particularly ironic when you consider that ‘anon’ regularly rants against the evils of undocumented stats when the Mark company index data is presented. Even though the Mark company is partly in the business of producing real estate stats, they aren’t to be trusted when their stats show weakness in the market. But I’m sure has a staff of decorated economists vetting their stats, at least as long as their stats show things going up.

        1. I leased a 2/1 on Scott between California and Sac in 2010 for $2,400 with garage parking. 70’s building, slight view of lower Pac Heights, top floor (4th) with elevator access. Finishes were outdated tile counters and linoleum floors in bath and kitchen, new carpet rest of unit. Super clean though like it was a time capsule from the 80’s. So call it 7 years ago.

    2. I just got a great deal on a larger 1br in a sought after neighborhood, about 2300/month. LL listed it at 2800 6 weeks ago, lowered it to 2600 3 weeks ago, and I snatched it up a few hours after he lowered the listing to 2300.

      On CL, I see the lower bound is around 2850 for a 1br, but all of those units are stagnant, they’ve been listed multiple times and haven’t been leased yet, when the price drops below that threshold they get snapped up in a few days.

  1. This is not accurate at all. Oakland rents are stable while SF has come down. Also, new buildings in Oakland in Uptown, JLS and Lake Merritt command much higher rents than the averages for Oakland over all. With nearly 4,000 housing units under construction, Oakland’s rental price averages will be much closer to SF’s current newer rental housing stock. These numbers are very deceptive and designed to reassure the SF rental market while downplaying and denigrating Oakland’s.

    1. “Oakland’s rental price averages will be much closer to SF’s current newer rental housing stock.”

      Dream on.

      And, when SF rentals sneeze, Oakland’s will catch a cold. Especially in over hyped West Oakland.

      As for the report used by SS, $4100 city average isn’t very meaningful. If this report is so robust, let’s at least break out averages for studios, 1BR, 2br, etc.

      1. West Oakland is a tiny part of a city of 425,000. Maybe 25,000 residents. Also, Oakland is its own market not dependent on SF. If anything, more people will move to Oakland for a better value and a better quality of life.

        1. Nope. A- my comments apply city wide to Oakland. I just used west oak as an extreme example. B- if rents continue softening, some folks will move right back to SF as they see it as more affordable than before. Oakland is definitely NOT anything close to being independent from SF. Yes it’s gotten more of its own identity recently, but it’s not close to what you wish it is.

          1. Oakland is not just cheaper, young people with any sort of cultural or artistic bent (and I’m not talking about opera and ballet) will choose Oakland over sterilized SF nowadays.

            As for the rental data, I like the Zillow Rental Index, which shows rents starting to turn back up even in SF. I think rents are basically just following the madness in the stock market.

        2. people move to oakland when they can no longer afford SF or they want more space. oakland housing market completely dependent of whims of SF market.

        3. If they are working in SF and tired from commuting, they may return to be closer to work if the rents are cheaper. At some point, Oakland may price itself out of being “affordable.” However, if people are working temp jobs or in the gig economy, there is no point in living in an expensive area.

    2. “Also, new buildings in Oakland in Uptown, JLS and Lake Merritt command much higher rents than the averages for Oakland over all. ”
      Which highlights an issue with the use of median rent in the report ‘anon’ linked to.

  2. Anecdotally, I’m seeing more ‘For Rent’ signs and seeing them linger longer. Not something that you saw much even a few years ago.

  3. Amount of asking rents is usually not an accurate indicator of the real market. It is much like asking sale price vs. final sale price. I would rather see the actual rents in an executed rental agreement but there aren’t studies based on that.

    SF is made up of neighborhoods. What is available to rent in SOMA is vastly different than the Excelsior, Sunset, or Richmond districts. And if you drill down further in SOMA, a lot of newer rental buildings are offering a month’s free rent, reduced parking rates, etc. to further mask the true rental rate.

    Add to the mix the co-living trends (WeWork, WeLive, and numerous others) where rents for a one room shared facility is $2K and up.

  4. I track this by saving listings for large complexes in SF. Things are flat to down about 2% on an asking basis in SF. I’d put the average loss at a little less than the 2% posited here, but I don’t look at small landlords at all, so your mileage may vary.

  5. With so much construction going on in Oakland it’s amazing the this site is 95% San Francisco. The only mention of Oakland recently has been this in this article as a negative comparison to San Francisco’s higher rental prices.

    1. Perhaps not so “amazing” for a site that invites us to:
      “Plug In to San Francisco Real Estate Tips, Trends and the Local Scoop”

      1. So this is a San Francisco site? I was wondering why so little mention of Oakland real estate recently. That makes sense.

        1. I’ve noticed that many of the East Bay-relevant SocketSite items are not tagged with the “east bay” category, so you might miss some if you are looking there.

          For example this article about a Berkeley site does not appear under Articles Filed Under: East Bay even though the article links to that category.

          I, for one, appreciate the SocketSite coverage of the East Bay even if it’s not comprehensive. The site runs off tips, so maybe you could just provide a few.

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