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One year’s rent in SF costs more than a down payment in most cities

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As the dog days of summer roll over, the price of renting in San Francisco stays mostly lukewarm

Photo by Luz Rosa

Despite summer generally being a season of growth, rent platforms reported only minor spikes or even general flatness on the first of the month.

On Zumper, the median rent on a single-bedroom apartment in San Francisco dropped 0.9 percent—barely enough to count—month over month to $3,420/month, down 1.2 percent compared to the same site last year. A two-bedroom is $4,500, unchanged from last month.

Competitor Abodo says the price of a single-bedroom pad is also down 0.9 percent on its own platform, which comes out to $3,210/month. Two beds is $4,345/month.

RENTCafe’s single bedroom figure is the highest of all at $3,440, but note that it still reflects prices from earlier in the summer, as that site updates its figures in the middle of the month instead of the beginning.

And ApartmentList, the iconoclast of the bunch, contends that a $2,430/month is a more plausible figure for one bedroom, versus $3,060/month for two.

ApartmentList updated its methodology earlier this year, insisting that other sites report median prices based off of samples biased toward luxury apartments and new construction.

A Curbed SF survey of Craigslist finds that among single bedroom homes listed this week, the median for one bedroom was $2,800/month, and two bedrooms ran $4,200/month. But note that this is not a scientific sampling.

Because no discussion about the cost of living by the bay these days is complete without some horrifying perspective, consider that the cheapest city on Zumper’s monthly calculation is Toledo, Ohio, where the median apartment price is just $470.

So the average San Francisco renter using Zumper could afford seven Toledo apartments with change leftover every month.

But since the sage wisdom says that buying is a better investment than renting, consider that the highest-end estimate—RENTCafe’s $3,440/month—comes out to $41,280/year.

That’s not enough money for a 20 percent down payment on what the US Census reports as the median price of a US home ($310,000).

It is, however, more money than a similarly sized payment on a median single family home home in 114 US metros in early 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors, out of 185 communities surveyed.

That includes homes in the Atlanta, Georgia area (median home price $182,000), the New Orleans metro area ($186,400) and both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas ($179,000), although it falls just short of the bar in the Tampa, Florida region ($207,000).

Dusk MC