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SF apartment supply up—same goes for rent prices

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“Demand to get an apartment in San Francisco is still outpacing the supply of apartments in the city”

Photo by Brandon Doran

Rental site Hot Pads reported at the end of March that although its number of rental listings in San Francisco rose year over year, so too did the median price of those listings, concluding that “the demand to get an apartment in San Francisco is still outpacing the supply of apartments in the city.”

And Hot Pads’ various competitors drew similar conclusions, all reporting spikes in the median price of apartments citywide. However, each site drew different conclusions about how much an average SF apartment will run you:

  • In its first quarterly San Francisco report, Hot Pads recorded a citywide median rent (across all kinds and sizes of properties) of $4,508/month, up 1 percent year over year. This despite the fact that “rental inventory on HotPads increased nearly 40 percent in San Francisco since last year.” An increase in the inventory on Hot Pads is not necessarily equivalent to an increase in inventory citywide, so it probably doesn’t pay to make too much of that. However, it is true in that inventory is up in general and prices do not appear to be declining.
  • Zumper continues a strange trend in which the price of a single-bed apartment in SF has remained flat for three months in a row, still clocking in at $3,400/month. Zumper has a larger sample than most of its peers—it records 458 listings for one-bed SF apartments right now—but it seems that said sample has been oddly static of late. Even if Zumper prices are unchanged short term, they are up 2.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

  • Competitor site Abodo agrees with Zumper almost to the digit, coming up with a figure of $3,409/month for one bedroom in San Francisco. Abodo’s monthly report doesn’t mention how this compares year over year, which is a shame since it’s the only one of the lot that records a yearly decline: At roughly the same time in 2017, the site’s SF median was $3,470/month.
  • On ApartmentList, which generally reports much cheaper and less volatile prices than its competitors thanks mostly to the different methods the site’s economist employs to calculate the median, the April figure for a single-bed SF apartment is $2,440/month. While that’s less bracing than the others, it’s still a spike of 1.1 percent year over year.
  • Meanwhile, RENTCafe posts the most intimidating price point out of all of them at $3,428/month for a one-bed San Francisco apartment, an increase of 2 percent from 2017. Note that these figures are actually from mid-March, however, since RENTCafe is a little less regular than the others about its monthly updates. [Update: RENTCafe’s newly released April figures show rents up 2.4 percent in SF, to $3,433/month.]
  • And for final perspective, the median rent of a one-bedroom apartment on Craigslist in SF right now is $3,100/month.

Bear in mind that, for the most part, these prices reflect only what’s available on the respective sites rather than the actual citywide median.

As the U.S. Census revealed in March, the median rent in San Francisco in 2016 was rougly over $1,600/month, and San Ramon was the Bay Area’s most expensive city to rent.

Of course, that’s only good news for those already renting. Anyone looking at the prospect of a new place will have to navigate marketplaces like those above.