CFAH

As we first reported last week, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco had slipped a percent in October to $3,375 per month, an average which has since ticked down to $3,350. At the same time, the number of units listed for rent in the city has ticked up nearly 10 percent.

As such, while the average asking rent in San Francisco is up around 10 percent from its pandemic-era low in May and 3 percent higher than at the same time last year, it’s still over 18 percent ($750) lower than prior to the pandemic and 25 percent below a 2015-era peak, with the average asking rent for a one-bedroom in the city having held at around $2,800 over the past quarter (which is down from closer to $3,700 at peak).

Keep in mind that asking rents in San Francisco typically tick down in the fourth quarter with a seasonal slowdown in the market. But a typical slowdown should mute expectations for a full-blown rebound and rapid rise in rents.

Our analysis is based on a subset of (well) over 100,000 listings going back going back to 2004 that we maintain, normalize and index on a monthly basis (or weekly when volatility is up). And as always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Panhandle Pro

    I think it will be a long, long time before we will return to the 2015 peak of $3,700 for a one-bedroom.

    Despite the headlines around Stevenson being blocked, the supply side is still more robust than it’s been in decades. The pipeline of housing is solid, SF Planning is clearly motivated to build, and the YIMBYs are generally winning the war right now.

    On the demand side, work from home seems like it will continue to be a minor but noteworthy headwind to living in SF, more-so than other cities because of such acceptance to WFH from tech companies vs finance, consulting etc.

    • Posted by thattechguy

      Alternative opinion: Inflation will take us to $3700 by end of next year easily.

      My corporate rentals have never commanded so much money and bookings. My most profitable year was actually 2021 and I don’t see it slowing down.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        If so, you’ve either bucked the trend or were managing a portfolio of under-performing properties prior to the pandemic having hit, not only in terms of rents but also relative to local hotel rates, with the Average Daily Rate (ADR) in San Francisco under $200 per night last month, with a sub-50 percent occupancy rate, having averaged over $300 a night in 2019 with an occupancy rate which was averaging closer to 80 percent at the time. Which brings us back to the actual data and trend(s) at hand…

  2. Posted by Martin

    Is there a graph showing these asking rents over time – similar to your employment and interest rate charts?

  3. Posted by ST

    With crimes going up, who wants to live in SF? Every time I go to SF these days, I can’t help but look around me and behind me all the time…

    • Posted by JimmyPizza

      Violent crime in SF is remarkably low relative to the rest of the US and relative even to the city’s own history. I live in SF and I do not spend any of my time looking all around me and behind me as I walk to all the nice places here. Your unnecessary paranoia is a you problem, not a city of San Francisco problem.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        @ ST didn’t specify violent crimes. I would agree that I’m not concerned about violent crimes – but I am concerned about petty crimes and property crimes, everything from increasingly-rampant stop-sign running to increasing amounts of garbage and homeless detritus in the parks and on the sidewalks.

        Apparently the “flower box” theory of policing has been somewhat discredited, but nevertheless everyone I know who’s lived in SF more than a few years feels that the city’s gone downhill and lost a lot of its allure. There’s just an overall level of grunginess and disrepair – which based on recent visits to Boston, Chicago, and Phoenix is fairly unique to San Francisco.

        • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

          Exactly. This past week my neighbor’s garage was broken into at night. While the family was in the house sleeping. 15K in tools stolen. The guys who did it broke into the wife’s car parked on the street – she had left the garage door opener in the car. There are many overnight car break-ins in this area. The perps looking for garage door openers, cell phones, laptops. This is on the slopes of Mt. Davidson. A quiet neighborhood that not long ago was pretty much crime free.

          • Posted by jimbo

            weve had 14 houses on 1 block in the inner richmond hit over the past 12 months. 3 cars stolen and 2 houses had home break-ins, not just garage. have a neighborhood watch group now and several neighbors have purchased firearms. clement st has had a huge uptick in commercial burglaries as well. we now have needles on the corners that i never saw before. our local walgreens is closing on clement after a 500% increase in theft. We have a 4 yr old and im ready to take matters into my own hands. if boudin doesnt get voted out, we will leave after 25 years here.

          • Posted by Sean

            These anecdotes are not exclusive to SF. My friends and family on the peninsula are living in fear as well. Cars stolen in broad daylight in San Carlos and San Mateo in front of $2.5mm homes. They are dead bolting and unplugging their garage doors at night. Adding security cameras in their backyards because neighbors have seen uninvited guests rummaging through sheds, etc.

          • Posted by two beers

            It’s almost as if there are material consequences to the historic levels of wealth concentration and income inequality..

        • Posted by jimbo

          violent crimes, particularly gun related crimes are up >90% YoY. these are happening in front of schools in broad daylight (including the recent shootings on haight). it’s getting out of control

          • Posted by JimmyPizza

            Violent crimes were significantly down last year compared to where they were the year before, so increasing year over year isn’t that meaningful. Right now we’re on track to have roughly the same violent crime rate we had in 2015 and the lowest property crime rate we’ve had since 2012.

            That y’all “feel” like things are bad is just that, a feeling. It has no real connection to data. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and the idea that SF is somehow a dangerous or bad or dirty city has never had any connection to reality and continues to have no connection to reality. In fact, I feel like a lot of people talking like that have never spent any real time in another crowded city before and would be happier moving to a nice suburb somewhere.

          • Posted by Frank

            jimbo so you’re saying before “boudin” you were sleeping with your doors open, leaving your car unlocked, and skipping down the street without a worry in the world? On January 19th, 2021 you were still living in Pleasantville but damnit on January 20th “Boudin” changed everything.

    • Posted by wilson

      “That y’all “feel” like things are bad is just that, a feeling. It has no real connection to data.”

      But is the data skewed because people have given up on reporting when nothing gets done? Look on Nextdoor or some such and see that many people just give up going through the trouble of making a police report when there’s no point. My friend talked to an officer who made the obvious point that it isn’t worth their time to investigate crimes where the DA won’t follow through.

      That being said, I don’t feel the risk of violent crime has gone up. My thought is that why would someone risk robbing me when they can just go into a CVS and walk out with whatever they want. Shoplifting is essentially unenforced, while I’d hope that a strong arm robbery would still warrant some action from the police. My wife does not agree at all with this logic so we too may join the exodus. But for my part I do think that things have gotten much worse for property crimes, but probably not that much worse for violent crimes.

      Look at all the drugstores that closed, Target shortened their hours, even the Castro Safeway reduced its operating hours. Companies just wouldn’t do these things just based on a “feeling”

  4. Posted by SomeCallMeE

    A lot of pessimists in the comment section of SS lately, and the data to back up that perspective.

    I will say that anecdotally, Outside Lands Music Festival has felt like a turning point among the young people that, up until now, were avoiding the city.

    Time will tell, but I’m expecting this to be the last drop in rents, including seasonal fluctuations, as delta wanes, herd immunity is reached, and offices begin to open up again.

  5. Posted by Carlos Carbajal

    The “ticking down another percent” is normal seasonality or no?

  6. Posted by Steven

    SF is toast for now. The true price of terrible city management was covered-up for years by the rapid rise of tech and the frenzied activity it caused. That’s gone – the great tech diaspora is here but for most it is welcomed. Case in point, the raging markets in Austin, Nashville, Miami, and even New York and LA. Anecdotally, not a single person of the dozens I know that moved has once said “I can’t wait to move back to SF.”

    On a lifestyle basis SF was (and still is) very overpriced. That’s only going to get worse with less foot traffic to support the retail/restaurant businesses and the fact that we forced everyone to learn how to shop online for a 18 months. Why would I go shop brick and mortar retail for anything when I can get the same item on Etsy for 50% off. And this is before the next pandemic, earthquake, NFT bubble burst, or/and any other type of headwinds.

    Recovery won’t happen until rents get down to ~$1,600 for a NICE one bedroom (not the crap undated victorian that was last updated in the 70’s) and there’s real progress in the homeless issue and general cleanliness. I’m sad to write this as a 20+ year resident but it is true.

    • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

      If you’re a 20+ year resident than perhaps you were around during the aftermath of the dot com implosion. Everything you’ve written above, minus the references to NFTs and Etsy, could have and in fact was, written about SF in 2001. Rents did decline for a short bit, and then they rose back up and well past the level where they were, even when adjusted for inflation.

      Much as I would love to believe that in the near future, housing prices will return to a level where people who are already living and working in S.F. will be able to continue to do so without being priced out and there will be a drastic reduction in the number of people living on the street eaking out a living collecting recyclables between hits of crystal methamphetamine, I don’t think it will happen, just like it didn’t twenty years ago.

      What will make that happen is a marked reduction in the number of flippers, developers, and other hangers-on in the real estate “game” who have arrived here from elsewhere with dollar signs in their eyes, ready to exploit S.F. workers by jacking up the pricing of housing. When those people depart for the raging markets in Austin, Nashville, Miami, and even New York and LA, is when long time SF residents will have the chance to see real progress.

      • Posted by sparky-b

        Good lord with the “hangers on” in every post. Who are they?

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      Indeed? I personally know several people who left SF and came back. And there’s a veritable cottage industry with regard to churning out articles covering same. Let’s not pretend that it isn’t very easy to google “Left SF but came back” and yield many, many articles. The sheer amount of “SF is done” hyperbole is at peak levels right about now.

  7. Posted by ExSFLandlord

    Sad truth is that SF has become a haven for criminal activity and street drug use. Just the other day a mob raided a several Union Square upscale stores. Then the next day a similar mob raided a Nordstrom store. Target and Walgreen are closing up stores all over the Bay Area.

    It’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in the Bay Area and San Francisco with rising crime and rampant street drugs use. The voters have spoken by electing “progressive” candidates to office and passing “criminal reform” laws like Prop 47. This shows that the voters must approve what’s going on around them. Or they are totally clueless about who and what they vote on.

    San Francisco has 23+ million square feet of office space. I can’t even imagine or place a number on the amount of vacant retail space that exist in SF today.

    Now when your car is broken into and you call 911 or the SFPD they redirect your call to 311, the public works department, so they can send out someone to clean up the broken glass.

    Lowering rents is not going to attract workers back to SF or Bay Area. Changing voter awareness and undoing “progressive” and “crime reform” laws may help over time. Electing less “progressive’ candidates to office may help. But the damage is done and it’s going to take years to undo the damage that the “progressive” mindset has beset on SF and CA. When you encourage lawlessness you get more lawlessness. This mindset won’t change until the voters change their mindset.

    I’ve lived in SF for over 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s sad. I’m heart broken to see what our beautiful city has become.

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