Rent Fell in Every SF Neighborhood Last Year, Except for Two

Updated: Jan 10

  • San Francisco saw the steepest drop in median rent prices of any city in the U.S., with rent for a 1-bedroom falling 24% to $2,660 between January 2020 and January 2021, according to Zumper

  • Rents fell in every neighborhood in San Francisco, except for the Central Sunset (+1.6%) and Bayview (+0.4%)

  • Rents may continue slipping in the short term, according to a Zumper analyst, but will likely stabilize in 2021 as the pandemic and economy get under control

After years of skyrocketing rental prices, San Francisco median rent fell by the highest percentage of any U.S. city last year.

According to data released by Zumper, San Francisco saw a 24% decrease in the median price of a 1-bedroom apartment between January 2020 and January 2021. Oakland wasn't far behind, recording a 22% drop in median rent; other cities with steep drops included New York City (-19.7%) and Seattle (-20.6%).

Within San Francisco, the decreases varied widely by neighborhood. According to a breakdown provided by Zumper, the steepest rent drops were in Hayes Valley (-37.5%), Lower Haight (-30.7%), Civic Center (-30.3%), and SOMA (-30%).

Meanwhile, the Central Sunset recorded a slight increase in median rent, rising 1.6% year-over-year to $2,384. Likewise, median rent in Bayview ticked up 0.4% to $2,808. Other neighborhoods, such as the Outer Mission (-0.7%) and the Inner Richmond (-3.8%) recorded only modest rent decreases.

San Francisco is still the most expensive rental market in the country, with a median rent of $2,660 per month for a 1-bedroom. According to Neil Gerstein, a growth and data analyst at Zumper, prices may keep slipping in the short term followed by stabilization in 2021.

"We've seen rent drops in San Francisco slow to some extent in Q4 of 2020 compared to Q3; average monthly growth in Q4 was -2.0% compared to -4.8% in Q3 for SF 1-bedrooms," Gerstein said. "Additionally, we've seen a growing amount of renters interested in moving to the SF Bay Area in Q4 of 2020. These two factors could indicate that a price stabilization in San Francisco is not that far off, but it is likely too early to say."

The rent drops in San Francisco are linked to significant outflow of residents since March 2020, when pandemic shutdowns first went into effect.

According to USPS data obtained by Public Comment, more than five times as many San Franciscans requested address changes between March 2020 and November 2020 compared to the same period in the prior year.

The majority of those address changes were to new destinations outside of San Francisco, pointing to a rapid and unprecedented net outflow over the course of a few months.

Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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