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Bay Area rents drop, East Coast on the rise

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It's the other coast's turn to take a whipping

September has rolled around and rents have come due, so what does everybody’s bonkers San Francisco rents look like these days?

Once again, median rents across the city crept downward for August. And, depending on which survey you perused, various East Coast cities are bumping Bay Area burghs out of position in the top ten rankings. It seems all of that August fog cooled things down a bit after all. (Thanks, Karl.)

For the third month in a row, rental site ApartmentList continues to insist that New York has well and truly unseated San Francisco as America’s most expensive market, now by an even more prominent degree.

A one bedroom in San Francisco averages $3,420 on AL, and a two bedroom is $4,720, down 2.7 percent year over year and 0.8 percent since last month. Similar units cost $3,550 and $5,200 in the Empire City.

ApartmentList is still the lone voice crying in the wilderness on this point (after three months we’ve decided that it’s part of the site’s charm and we just need to accept it), but their figures aren’t at all dissimilar from competitor Zumper, which pegs San Francisco at $3,440/month for one bed, down 0.6 percent for the month.

Since New York declined on Zumper too we’re still number one in their books, but a cadre of East Coast cities in the form of New York, Boston, and Washington DC bumped San Jose down to the nation’s fifth priciest ($2,140 for one bed) and pushed Oakland to number six with $2,120. That’s a 3.6 and 4.1 percent drop, respectively.

It’s always nice when the competitors more or less agree, and doubly so when their agreement includes phrases like "down 2.7 percent year over year."

Reinforcing the mostly happy news, the Chronicle reports on two summertime rent surveys that showed rents flattening out, down 0.7 percent year over year in one and up two percent year over year in another but down slightly since the beginning of the year.

As usual, these creeping, cringing, one or two percent declines are hard to get excited about in a "Break out the champagne and make it rain" kind of way. But with some people telling us that rents will never really decline again, we’re happy for any slim opportunity to prove them wrong.

Real estate site Trulia reports San Francisco rents down significantly, dropping to $2,737/month for a one bedroom, 5.6 percent off from last month and an incredible 18 percent off from last year. Trulia’s rent figures are always lower than everyone else’s and generally very volatile, so don’t put too much stock in them.

And just to keep us in check, RentJungle, the curmudgeonly site that refuses to tell us anything we want to hear month after month, still says that rents are completely flat for the entire summer and up slightly since the same time last year (although they have not yet updated to reflect August prices).