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Bay Area rents tumble, except in Concord

Price way down in San Francisco since 2016

A plaza in Concord, California with a clock prominent in the foreground.
Concord, still one of the region’s cheapest cities but feeling the heat this year.

Rental site Zumper on Wednesday ranked Bay Area cities to see where median apartment prices had dropped the most year over year.

Rents in the Bay Area are, of course, still highest in San Francisco, followed by Palo Alto (a median of $2,890/month for a single bedroom) and Redwood City ($2,730/month).

Vallejo and Santa Rosa ranked cheapest on the list, coming in at $1,300 and $1,400/month, respectively.

Where things got interesting was the year-over-year comparison. Earliest this month, Zumper reported that they saw a huge nine percent decline in San Francisco prices since 2016.

It turns out this was a region-wide trend: Median rents on Zumper are down 15 percent in Redwood City, Burlingame, and Emeryville, 13 percent in Santa Clara, 12 percent in South San Francisco, ten percent in Fremont, and nine percent in Mountain View.

Prices were up in some cities: Petaluma, San Leandro, Livermore, Vallejo, and most notably Concord (more on that later), but still relatively cheap compared to the rest of the region, hovering around $2,000 or less for a one-bedroom.

Concord PD.
Paul Marcus

But Zumper’s big dips are much, much bigger than those reported by other analysts.

On competitor ApartmentList, for example, SF prices are down only one percent year over year. Also, 3.9 percent in Redwood City, 6.5 percent in Burlingame, 7.4 percent in Emeryville, 1.1 percent in Santa Clara, 0.8 percent in Fremont, and 1.7 percent in Mountain View.

(ApartmentList doesn’t have a listing for South San Francisco to compare with.)

On the one hand, those are still very substantial declines. But not as substantial.

Meanwhile, RENTCafe actually San Francisco as having one of the smallest year-over-year declines of any major city—73rd out of 74—down 3.6 percent since 2017.

(Though it’s also the only source to contend that SF apartments are cheaper than New York right now.)

Most other Bay Area cities didn’t make it into the RENTCafe rankings, though the site does record a 0.5 percent drop in Oakland and 0.7 percent in San Jose. Zumper number are down five percent and three percent there.

All of these disparate sources do agree on one thing: As prices have dropped almost across the board, they’re still way up in Concord, anywhere from eight to fifteen percent since last year.

As the San Jose Mercury News observed in February, generally lower prices in a handful of further-flung East Bay cities have attracted bargain seekers and increased competition, which pushes prices up.

Concord’s population is up by nearly 6,000 since the 2010 census clocked it at 122K people.