Bay Area rents plummeted in June: See the biggest drops by city

Bay Area apartment rents continued to drop in June as the coronavirus kept most offices closed and layoffs mounted.

One-bedroom rents fell compared to the prior year in 27 of 31 Bay Area cities tracked by Zumper, a real estate listings website. The biggest drops were concentrated in major Silicon Valley tech hubs, including Cupertino, the home of Apple; Mountain View, where Google is headquartered; and Menlo Park, Facebook’s hometown. Those cities have some of the region’s highest rents. Emeryville was the only East Bay city that saw a double-digit drop.

San Francisco’s one-bedroom rents plunged 11.8%, the highest drop on record and the biggest among major U.S. cities. The city remains the most expensive in the country.

Widespread work-from-home policies are pushing tenants to reconsider whether continuing expensive leases is worth it. Many tech companies including Facebook and Google are allowing workers to stay home until the end of the year. “People are definitely taking this time to move out of San Francisco,” said Crystal Chen, marketing manager at Zumper, though she said many are still staying in the Bay Area.

 Bay Area rents plummeted in June: See the biggest drops by city

Zumper data shows that downtown San Francisco, South of Market and Hayes Valley saw some of the biggest drops in rent, while demand increased in outer neighborhoods like the Sunset, Richmond and Lakeshore. Tenants not having to commute downtown and access to more outdoor space makes those areas more desirable, Chen said.

The number of listings have risen about 25% in San Francisco compared to the previous year, meaning renters have more options. Chen said her friends have successfully renegotiated rent at a lower rate and she urges prospective tenants to push for lower rents and more incentives, which can include gift cards or free parking.

In contrast, Oakland rents rose in June, which Chen attributed to renters looking for a less expensive option compared to San Francisco. The city is also seeing thousands of new apartments being completed in the downtown area, which have higher listing prices than older buildings.

Hundreds of thousands of unemployment claims in the Bay Area during the coronavirus make it harder for people to stay in the region.

“I was expecting a significant drop in rents and a big jump in vacancy rates. Unemployment hits the rental market much harder than it hits the for-sale market,” said Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst in the Bay Area at real estate brokerage Compass. “Tenants paying the highest rents in the nation decamp quickly if their jobs disappear — to cheaper areas or back to mom and dad — and that is what is happening now.

The calculations are based on median rents for one-bedroom apartments listed in June compared to the previous year.

Cupertino: -15.7% to $2,680

Mountain View: -15.1% to $2,930

Emeryville: -13.8% to $2,490

Menlo Park: -13.5% to $2,830

Santa Clara: -12.9% to $2,570

San Francisco: -11.8% to $3,280

Palo Alto: -11.1% to $2,800

Union City: -10% to $2,150

Milpitas: -9.5% to $2,560

San Ramon: -9% to $2,010

San Jose: -8% to $2,300

Richmond: -6.7% to $1,810

San Bruno: -6.5% to $2,870

South San Francisco: -5.4% to $2,470

Redwood City: -5.3% to $2,850

Sunnyvale: -5.2% to $2,560

San Mateo: -4.3% to $2,660

Daly City: -4.3% to $2,430

Fremont: -2.3% to $2,150

Alameda: -2.3% to $2,110

Vallejo: -2.1% to $1,380

Dublin: -2% to $2,420

Hayward: -1.6% to $1,900

Berkeley: -0.8% to $2,380

East Palo Alto: Rent was unchanged at $2,030

San Leandro: Rent was unchanged at $1,850

Walnut Creek: Rent rose 1.3% to $2,290

Concord: Rent rose 2.3% to $1,760

Oakland: Rent rose 4.5% to $2,300

Campbell: Rent rose 4.8% to $2,200

Livermore: Rent rose 15.1% to $2,060

Roland Li is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @rolandlisf

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