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Rents drop citywide in SF, rise in Bayview

Stagnation pushed some wealthy and affordable neighborhoods a little closer together in 2016

The view from Bayview Park.
The view from Bayview Park.
Jacopo Werther

Like its competitors, rental site Zumper reported stagnation and gradual ebbing of rents in San Francisco all year long.

But as usual, it all depends on where you live. Overall, the site recorded a 4.9 percent 2016 decline in rent prices—a fairly big drop compared to other sites.

The biggest loser (loser in this case being a good thing): NoPa, where Zumper rents declined nine percent. Noe Valley dropped eight percent on the site, and even Nob Hill was down six.

On the other hand, the biggest rent hikes in the city came in Bayview of all places, where median prices leaped 11.5 percent.

That’s alarming to see in one of the city’s last redoubts of kinda-sorta affordable living. New construction is presumably to blame, although the neighborhood is getting its fair share of bites from the renovation bug as well.

Still, Zumper’s end of year heat map, showing the rise and fall of prices by neighborhood (again, a least as far as Zumper listings themselves go), only indicates activity, not prices themselves.

That means even ritzy ZIP codes in the likes of Pac Heights, the Marina, Russian Hill, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, and Hayes Valley ended the year down. (Whereas Bernal Heights, South Beach, Glen Park, the Castro, and the Haight were all up. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, traditionally cheaper neighborhoods—like the Excelsior, Sunset (inner and outer alike), and, yes, even the Tenderloin—crept a bit upward.

K Ripp

But at the end of the day, the Tenderloin and Excelsior are still the Tenderloin and Excelsior and still some of the cheapest rents in the city (for whatever that’s worth these days), and Russian Hill and Cow Hollow are still Russian Hill and Cow Hollow.

Notice that the Mission ended the year up a bit, while the nearby Mission Dolores sub-neighborhood was done. The Inner Richmond declined, while the outer shot up considerably.

This could be the whims of fate, or it could just be small sample sizes on Zumper’s platform or even a product of the somewhat arbitrary places we draw neighborhood lines.

Overall, the yearly trend is still down wherever you ask, which is a nice, slimly hopeful note to end the year on.

As one Facebook reader commented, the difference between $3,300 and $3,400 per month isn’t that much for most most families.

While that’s certainly true, the biggest benefit of price stagnation for renters is not that prices went down a bit, but that they didn’t continue going up.

Another 15 percent year-over-year increase like we’ve seen in the past would have put us in the $3,800 median range, and nearing $4,000, at least for market rents.

So even if not much changes, that’s still at least a species of good news. Keep your fingers crossed for January.

Christian Mehlführer