Having bottomed out at around $3,050 last month, which shouldn’t have caught any plugged-in readers by surprise, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco has since ticked up around 2 percent to $3,125 per month but is still 24 percent lower than prior to the pandemic having hit and 30 percent below a 2015-era peak.

And with the net number of apartments listed for rent in San Francisco, including units in larger buildings as well as one-off rentals, having dropped nearly 20 percent over the past month, following the trend we highlighted back in April, the average asking rent for a studio in the city has ticked back up to a little over $1,900 a month (but is still 25 percent lower than prior to the pandemic having hit), the average asking rent for a one-bedroom in the city has ticked up to around $2,650 a month (but is still 25 percent lower than prior to the pandemic), and the average asking rent for a two-bedroom in San Francisco is back over $3,600 a month for the first time in six months, having jumped 4 percent over the past month but still 27 percent below peak.

All that being said, there are still 45 percent more apartments listed for rent in San Francisco than there were at the same time last year and 85 percent more than there were prior to the pandemic, while the population has shrunk, which should continue to moderate the rebound in rents.

And as always, our analysis is based on a subset of over 100,000 listings going back going back to 2004 that we maintain, normalize and index on a monthly basis. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

22 thoughts on “Rents in San Francisco Tick Up as Vacancy Rate Drops, But…”
  1. Congrats to the renters who got new units this past year . A super hi five if it’s under rent control .
    Would put these people in the same category as the people who purchased in 2009-2012 and have sub 3% jumbo mortgages .

    Not sure if luck or good timing (probably a little bit of both) nice to see renters benefiting and not just people with assets . Toast to you .

  2. During the pandemic rents in my SOMA condo building for a 1BR plunged from almost $4K/mo to just under $3K/mo. Over the last few months asking prices have gone up slowly but steadily and one of my neighbors is now asking $3400. If he gets it I’ll believe the rent price recovery is real. I think for now it’s wishful thinking.

    1. Where’s he advertising? That seems to be about on par with what I’m seeing in soma condo buildings and I’m pretty actively hunting.

  3. My one tenant just told me this morning that she is moving out and leaving SF next month, because her company closed its SF office, and will allow employee to WFH permanently. I dont know how a company can stay competitive (and survive) by going forever remote, but I expect this trend to take 3-4 years to revert…

    So, that means it will take 3-4 years for rental to recover in the city, if it ever does, would be my guess.

  4. San Francisco is about to get younger.

    20 and 30-somethings who are single or just want the city life will be returning first. Reduced prices will also woo younger folks who live in other cities, or in the SF Bay suburbs, to join the fray.

    Meanwhile, many older folks or those with kids who have tasted work from home or experienced the quieter life may realize they prefer it and stay put, wherever they are.

    1. Hmm…

      If anything, SF has been getting older over the last year, as the vast majority of the techsodus was and is comprised of tech workers.

      As for the purported Restoration™, it doesn’t square with what’s happening on the streets of the eastern neighborhoods. As a brilliant commenter on a recent post on SF Chron observed, For Rent signs and sidewalk mattress art installations are flourishing again, while that noted tell-tale sign of influx — empty, used moving boxes bundled and stacked against a tree outside the house of a recently-unpacked transplant — are rarely seen. Another indicator is an uptick in “moving sales” on craigslist, as well as in increase in those white and red sidewalk SFMTA moving permits towards the end of the month.

      The streets of the east side were full of outbound moves the last two weeks of May. If there were a Restoration™, one would expect the first few days of the month to be busy with move-ins. I saw four moves in the north Mission yesterday, curiously all move-outs. Today, bupkis. Small sample size surely, but at some point, a proliferation of contradictory empirical anecdata has to be reconciled with the industry’s self-reported data.

      What I think is happening is that, a) with the lockdown ending, it is much easier for prospective bailers to find new places to which to bail, b) moving trucks, vans, and labor are more available than they were last year during peak texit frenzy, and c) moving vehicle and labor prices have come down, making moves available to many who couldn’t arrange or afford to last year. It seems there is a huge pent-up demand for outbound moving services, and several different movers I approached in situ last week confirmed this.

      While data gathered and reported by potentially self-interested operations surely bear consideration, so do empirical observations of in-progress phenomena.

        1. Here’s another anecdatum to ponder: pre-covid, the “wanted: room/share” category on CL was a lively romp of freshly-minted and -scrubbed eager young full stack cybernauts looking for SF crashpads while they launched their careers designing boba delivery apps. Now, the “wanted: room/share” category is rather threadbare and forlorn. Now that the Restoration™ is in full swing, where have all the couch surfers gone, long time coding?

        2. My grandparents could predict the future in their bones and two beers can predict it with Craigslist.

          1. My guess is two beers has been reading craigslist almost as long as I have. Going on 25 years. When craigslist displaced the JOA Sunday edition of the Chronicle around 1997 as the place to look for rentals craigslist has proved to be the most accurate indicator of the true state of the rental market. Far more accurate than any of those fancy (and expensive) Rental Market reports.

            I have not seen so many move in bonuses since the Dot Com crash. Or the recession of the early 1990’s. Once the eviction moratorium ends its going to be a blood bath. There is still a lot of down to go. We have not even hit the proper dead cat bounce yet. So still to come.

          2. Off and on, tf. I look at CL when I actually need to use it, and at market inflection points to get a feel for the trends. There is an awful lot of noise on CL, but it’s easy to filter the junk out and see how the patterns evolve. The categories and filters are different now than, say, 2009, but the trend movements will be obvious to anyone who is curious.

            Zillow also has some useful tools for many properties, such as days listed, date and amount of price changes, and number of contacts/applications. Some buildings list all of their vacancies, although other LLs are shrewder about handing negotiating power to prospective tenants, and list just a few. One can follow specific properties sit and sit, lower their rates a bit, then sit and sit, over many months, with few if any contacts and no applications. IOW, chasing the market down. Other units have been sitting on the same price for over a year now. I know the Restoration™ is in full swing, but apparently CL and Zillow haven’t heard. Someone should let them know! Somehow, it seems like supply & demand isn’t working like the textbook said… :-p

        1. If moving companies are charging less for their moves, what the consumer is paying for moving services and labor has come down.

        2. You couldn’t get a day laborer last year to polish your Lexus, haul your yard debris, or load in the sheet rock, because there was unprecedented demand for movers. Day labor is one of those markets that can be relatively accurately modeled using supply & demand theory. This morning – the third of the month, when we should be seeing lots of moving activity supporting the Restoration™ – there were no moves either way around Mission Dolores (despite plentiful vacancies), and only a few moving trucks listlessly plying west up Market (which street will start filling up with moving trucks around the middle of the month). Demand for day labor has settled, as have their rates, so you can get your Lexus polished once again.

          1. So in contrast to the widely reported labor shortage, in two beers world there is an abundance of workers forcing wages lower? Deflation in two beersland?

          2. I appreciate the strawman, sm, (it’s def a step up from ad hominem) but conflating “widely reported” with “local day-labor spot market” reveals lazy thinking. As your ilk like to say, “location, location, location.” Local moving is highly dependent on spot day labor, and SF had a bit of a run on day laborers last year, in case you missed it. If you could even find a day laborer last year to haul your begonias, you would’ve had to pay a premium. There is less demand now for day laborers than there was last year, so you could probably find one more readily and probably more affordably on Cesar Chavez than you could last year. I would guess that 2021 has been wage deflationary for most SF day laborers (pending the Restoration™, of course!). Not that they’re more “abundant” than usual (PMC propensity to describe people like plants duly noted), but demand for them has plummeted from the highs of last year. Assuming Tony Robbins waved an Econ 1 textbook at you in realtor™ school, your confusion about the often tautological theory of supply and demand is understandable. You also don’t seem to understand that prices in different segments of the economy don’t necessarily move in lockstep nor even in the same direction.

          3. My apologies. You obviously have more experience in exploiting undocumented day laborers than I do. Happy to yield to your expertise and market knowledge here.

          4. Never had call to use one myself, but then, I don’t drive a Lexus. Very touching that you’re concerned with exploiting marginalized under-the-table workers mostly doing grunt work no on else will do, no matter the pay. Would that your concern for the exploited extended to opposing the gentrification that poses the biggest threat to their existence here. Every “improved” and “updated” rental in the Mission means one less place for them to live, and higher rent in what’s left.

            Still, your concern with the well-being of those your profession crushes in the course of business on a daily basis is noted.

            Class war never sleeps.

      1. That last paragraph is doing a lot of work. I’m guessing those empirical observations also contain a serving of agenda confirmation, comrade.

        Fight the power!

    2. SF is not a fun city, it’s full of crime and literal sh*t. Young people are checking out Austin, Phoenix, Houston, and Miami.

  5. We are seeing a weekly uptick of interest which has recently extended to the three bedroom category. Fewer incentives required to secure resident within our 30 day window now. Some owners are keeping Inventory off market as they assess reentry.

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