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San Francisco rent prices slip below New York City

But will it last?

An aerial photo of taxi cabs at an intersection of Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Fifth Avenue, NYC.
Stephan Guarch

It’s best not to rise hopes about this kind of thing, because it could turn out to be a fluke. But for the first time this year, San Francisco no longer has America’s most expensive median rent, at least by one measure.

The site RENTCafe reports that San Francisco has slipped back down to the number two spot in their rankings, behind onetime king of impossible home prices, New York City.

That’s according to the site’s findings on the cost of renting in the city’s 30 largest financial centers released today.

San Francisco is pricier even than the likes of Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Zurich as RENTCafe assesses the price of a single bedroom apartment.

However, the really significant takeaway from this is that the city was neither the most expensive city in the report nor in the US; the platform records a median market rent of $3,360/month for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco, down about $20 from last month in SF and down $300 from New York City’s citywide average.

Stefano Termanini
The Brooklyn Bridge
Luciano Mortula - LGM

Normally when we slip below another city’s median rent it’s because of some eccentricity in how the numbers are calculated.

ApartmentList recorded several months of second-place SF rents in 2016, for example, but it turned out that was because the site’s analysts emphasized rents in Manhattan over less expensive boroughs.

But last month RENTCafe reported a Manhattan price of over $4,000/month for a New York apartment; the lower figure in this week’s report covers the city at large.

Of course, this is just one report.

Other surveys this month yield different figures—which is both normal and expected—estimating the price of a one bedroom apartment in SF anywhere between $3,200 and $3,500/month, lower than they were the same time in 2016, although comparable in most cases.

Central Park.
T Photography

But unlike sites like Zumper and ApartmentList, who compile their rent statistics mainly or exclusively from listings on their own sites, RENTCafe uses outside data from real estate data firm Yardi Matrix, so their results may be a little bit more robust than reports from other parties.

As usual, time will tell if this is a blip (like in the past) or a trend. In the meantime, any good news before the spring and summer seasons start to heat up prices again remains welcome.