Bay Area real estate: A square foot is worth a month’s rent

Oh, the pain, the pain — and the cost, the cost — of renting a Bay Area apartment.

A luxury condo sold last month in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood for $4.35 million. It’s a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath, 1,960-square-foot unit lined with walls of windows, mimicking the style of a mid-century Eichler home. Set on the 31st floor at 999 Green Street, with expansive views of the city, the apartment’s cost per square foot is $2,219.

“That means that just one foot of the place is more than you pay in rent for your tiny San Francisco apartment,” wrote Alexa Collins of the Homelight real estate website. “You could probably fit a toaster in that space. Or a corner of your bed.”

The cost per square foot is close to a match for what many people pay for two-bedroom apartments in San Jose, Oakland and other Bay Area cities. According to a June report from, which tracks the national apartment market, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit in San Jose was $2,570 last month. In Oakland, it was $2,500.

However, San Francisco is a slightly different story. One might say that the value of two square feet at 999 Green — $4,438 — is more in line with what San Francisco tenants pay for their two-bedroom apartments. According to, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom flat in San Francisco was $4,550 last month.

35b50 sjm l condocost 0711 3 Bay Area real estate: A square foot is worth a months rent
The Summit on San Francisco’s Russian Hill is influenced by the design of midcentury Eichler homes, which have walls of windows and light-filled interiors. A condominium on the 31st floor of The Summit sold last month for $4.35 million. (Courtesy Alexa Collins, 

(The Green Street condo was sold through Sotheby’s International Realty and its agent Betty Brachman.)

And in case you were wondering about those walls of windows: 999 Green Street is known as The Summit. It is a modern Eichler-style apartment house, described by Collins as “a rectangular skyscraper with a beige central concrete column that divides the building in half. You’ll find resemblance between the facade of Eichler houses and this building in the two walls of windows that make up the four corners of each unit. San Francisco’s elite (who) own property in the mid-century modern … units have sprawling views of the city.”

Developer Joseph L. Eichler built distinctive, mid-century tract homes that create the sense of bringing the outdoors into their flowing, light-filled interiors, lined with windows. In 1949-1974, Eichler — while based in Palo Alto and, later, San Francisco — built 10,500 houses across the region, even entire Eichler neighborhoods, from Walnut Creek to San Jose’s Willow Glen.

35b50 sjm l condocost 0711 2 Bay Area real estate: A square foot is worth a months rent
This is the floor plan for a luxury condo that sold last month on San Francisco’s Russian Hill for $4.35 million. Each square foot of the unit has a value of $2,219. (Courtesy Alexa Collins/ 

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