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Yikes: SF Closes In on a Year of Median Rents Topping NY's

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The median asking rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco dropped slightly to land at $3,400 in March (down from $3,460 in February), according to rental website Zumper's latest rent report. Even with that small dip, it was still enough to put San Francisco's ever-steep rents over New York's. What's more, though Zumper has only been putting out its monthly rent analyses since August—which was when we first reported that San Francisco's median rent had surpassed New York's—Zumper's data analysts looked back at the numbers and found that SF first crossed the threshold of doom in June 2014, with a one-bedroom median at $3,050 to New York's $3,000. That puts us now in the tenth, not the eighth month of the rental apocalypse, making us retroactively feel like fools caught trying to plot out the end times on a Roman calendar, like some kind of real-estate-obsessed Harold Camping.

Before we proceed, some background on the data: Zumper's monthly reports tally the median asking rents for all the listings on Zumper's site during the prior month, so they're by no means a measure of what all San Franciscans are paying. But they do offer a picture of the prices prospective renters who went apartment hunting in March were seeing. New York's citywide median—which includes Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island—stands at $3,000, unchanged from last month. Rents in Manhattan proper, however, still beat San Francisco's, giving us all one last shred of sanity to cling to.

In Oakland, where rents are rising faster than in SF, the median asking rent for a one-bedroom stood at $2,000 in March, putting Oakland in fourth place nationally. The city moved up from fifth place—and by 20 bucks—to tie with Washington, D.C. Oakland's median asking rent for a two-bed, meanwhile, would have run you $2,300.

As usual, Russian Hill commanded the highest prices in SF, with a median asking rent of $3,830 for a one-bedroom—unchanged since February. New York's NoMad, by contrast, came in at $4,270. Even that staggering price doesn't change the uncomfortable reality that the Bay Area leads the nation in annual rent growth.

Russian Hill's median has actually fallen 4.3 percent since January, down from $4,000. The neighborhood that saw the biggest price hike for a one-bedroom rental in March was the Marina ($3,500), with an increase of $200, or 6.1 percent. The neighborhood with the largest quarter-over-quarter jump for a one-bedroom was the Castro ($3,700), up 19.4 percent. Among two-bedrooms, South Beach saw the biggest increase over February, with a median standing at $5,500, a 10 percent spike.

One caveat: The month-to-month price changes Zumper tracks are not synonymous with changes in absolute value, since the apartments listed for rent in March are not necessarily the same units that were offered in February—making meaningful comparisons between the two months difficult. But the numbers do give some indication of the going rate for a one- or two-bedroom across all neighborhoods, which is something we track kind of obsessively.

· Zumper [Official Site]
· Zumper National Rent Report: March 2015
· Mapping the Median Rent of a One-Bedroom in San Francisco [Curbed SF]
· Yikes, Are San Francisco's Rents Closing In on New York's? [Curbed SF]
· Oakland Housing Price Increases Among the Top in the Nation [Curbed SF]
· Yikes, the Bay Area Leads the Nation in Annual Rent Growth [Curbed SF]
· Curbed Comparisons Archives [Curbed SF]