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Reports Say Rents Flat in Oakland After Freeze, Down in San Francisco

But they disagree on some finer points

Why it was only yesterday when ApartmentList said rents in the city were up in the short-term, down overall, but still really, really high.

Only an hour or two later, however, came a report from Zumper saying that, actually, rents are down in the short-term, mostly flatly overall, and also slightly higher in real dollar value than ApartmentList would have it.

It’s only expected that two rental sites would have two slightly different stories to tell, since listings on the two sites are never going to be exactly the same.

According to Zumper’s National Rent Report for May, San Francisco is still the most expensive city to rent in America (every report agrees on that much, at least), with a one bedroom apartment leasing for an average of $3,560/month, slightly higher than the ApartmentList average of $3,510.

AL reported an almost unnoticeable 0.3 percent increase since the previous month, Zumper prices saw a slightly more noticeable 0.8 percent decline. But both sites agree that prices are basically flat since the beginning of the year and way down from last year but still, maddeningly, way too high for that to really be considered good news.

Where things get tricky is trying to figure out what's happening in Oakland. The City Council implemented a rent freeze last month, although it's important to remember that it can’t legally be applied to every unit in the city; it's best not to read too much into that.

Nevertheless, Zumper says Oakland rents remained completely flat during April, not budging a dollar from the average of $2,280 for one bedroom. ApartmentList agrees, except that they notch a $1,900 median list for a one-bedroom there.

Both sites are working off of pretty small sample pools: Zumper, for example, has over 1,200 listings for San Francisco, but only 137 for Oakland. ApartmentList has 123. The City of Oakland itself suggests a citywide average of nearly $3,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, which is actually even higher than either site estimates.

That same city report estimates that the average household income in Oakland is only $30,000 a year, or $2,500/month, which would mean that all of these numbers add up to the same thing: too much for most people.