Bay Area cities are the only major metros where rents are still heavily discounted

Rents in San Francisco increased 3.2% month-over-month in July, though they’re still down 14% from pre-pandemic levels, according to new data from Apartment List. That puts median rents in San Francisco at $2,341 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,708 for a two-bedroom. San Francisco’s year-over-year rent growth lags the state average of 5.9%, as well as the national average of 10.3%.

Oakland had only a modest growth in prices in July, inching up just 1.5%, according to Apartment List. The East Bay city is still down 13% compared with March 2020 levels. The area’s other major metro, San Jose, is also down 7% since the pandemic began. 

This means that outside the Bay Area, no other major metropolitan area has rents discounted more than 5% compared with March 2020, according to Apartment List data.

 Bay Area cities are the only major metros where rents are still heavily discounted

While rental prices are indeed increasing in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, they aren’t growing at the same rate as the rest of the nation’s metropolitan areas. 

Apartment List

“The Bay Area is now really the only market in the U.S. where rents are still meaningfully discounted compared to pre-pandemic levels,” said Chris Salviati, a housing economist at Apartment List. “Rents in San Francisco are currently 14% below March 2020 levels, but even here things are rebounding rapidly, with an increase of 17% since January wiping out half of the pandemic discount we were seeing in December. If things continue on this trend, it won’t be long before Bay Area rents are right back to where they were before the start of the pandemic.”

While this sounds optimistic for the landlords out there, these new lower prices might be here to stay. Zumper found that rental prices fell in July by 2.5% compared with the previous month and all three of the Bay Area’s primary cities still rank in the top 10 of the largest year-over-year declines. “Not only that, but of the 21 Bay Area cities that Zumper tracked for this report, only one has a median one-bedroom rent that’s positive compared to the previous year,” the report said.

San Francisco also could lose its title as the most expensive city in the nation soon. With New York rents rising more quickly, the median price for a one-bedroom apartment in the two cities only stand apart by $40 — San Francisco sits at $2,720 and NYC sits at $2,680, according to Zumper’s figures.

“If the Delta variant ends up delaying a number of office reopenings in the Bay Area and New York continues to show resilience from the implications of work-from-home trends, you could see New York pass San Francisco as the most expensive market in the country,” said Jeff Andrews, data journalist at Zumper.  “However, New York rent is nearing the level it was at a year ago, while San Francisco is still down, meaning the fundamentals would likely push it past New York again when and if the pandemic gets more under control.”

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