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San Francisco neighborhoods where rents have actually dropped

It’s a short list—but a good one

Outer Sunset.
Photo by ben bryant/Shutterstock

SF-based rental platform Zumper released a new data map this week, which breaks down the median rental price of a one-bedroom apartment on its site in each of San Francisco’s major neighborhoods.

Zumper recently made headlines after declaring San Francisco rents at an all-time high and deeming SF the most expensive place to rent in the world. While neither declaration is quite true, the company’s data does provide a window into the ups and downs of new construction and luxury units across SF.

For example, comparing the new spring 2019 map to similar maps released in the spring of 2017 and summer of 2018 (there was no spring 2018 map published, so June is the closest point of comparison for last year) exposes several surprising declines in demand across certain SF neighborhoods.

For the sake of macabre curiosity, here are the five most expensive San Francisco neighborhoods to rent on Zumper in March, compared to prices in the same neighborhoods over the last two years:

  • SoMa: At $3,850 per month, Zumper has declared SoMa the most expensive place to rent for March 2019. On the 2018 map, the median for the neighborhood was $3,650 per month, which was flat compared to March of 2017.
  • South Beach: At $3,800 per month South Beach slides into second place. This neighborhood’s median has actually declined compared to 2018 when it was $3,850 and the most expensive citywide, but the figure is up $200 since 2017.
  • Hayes Valley: The neighborhood has come a long way since its freeway days, but unfortunately, so have the prices, now up to $3,750 per month. Last summer it was $3,690, and in 2017 just $3,500.
  • Financial District: This one comes in at $3,700 per month, from $3,550 in the summer of 2018 and $3,600 the year before that. Note that fewer homes tend to list in the Financial District—only 34 on Zumper right now—and smaller sample sizes always prove more volatile.
  • Cow Hollow: Cow Hollow ties the Financial District for fourth place at $3,700 per month, but that’s across more homes—57 this week. Prices in Cow Hollow have soared on the site; last summer the median was $3,250, and in 2017 it was $3,190.

Looking at the slightly less alarming portions of the map, we see that San Francisco’s least expensive neighborhood medians prices have, sadly, kept going up since 2017 as well. However, there are a few bright spots:

  • Outer Mission/Excelsior: As usual, the city’s southernmost neighborhood remains its most attainable. At $2,300 per month, the Excelsior still has the city’s least expensive median rent. It also has the biggest dip since the previous quarter, down 10 percent on the platform. Even so, rents remain up since 2018, when the neighborhood averaged $2,250. In 2017, the median rent was $2,090.
  • Tenderloin: Still holding out against the tide of gentrification, the Tenderloin barely misses being the city’s most affordable place to rent by averaging $2,395 per month. However, the Tenderloin does maintain one key distinction as one of the only neighborhoods where prices have declined over two years, from $2,500 and $2,400 in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
  • Outer Sunset: The price break from the Inner Sunset is profound, dropping over $400 to $2,450 per month. That’s flat compared to 2017 but down $140 since 2018. Note that Inner Sunset prices have spiked in the same period.
  • Glen Park: A bit of a surprise showing, as Glen Park homey residential vibe and immediate access to BART have kept it from being a particularly affordable renter option for years. Then again, at $2,650 per month it’s not exactly affordable now, either; more like a big fish in an even bigger pond. In 2018 the neighborhood averaged $2,950, down from $3,050 the previous year. The big depreciation might have something to do with the fact that only 17 homes are listed on the site right now.
  • Lone Mountain: SF’s most foreboding sounding (but ultimately very welcoming) neighborhood barely notches above Glen Park at $2,675 per month, down from $2,700 the previous two years.

The other SF neighborhoods where rents have declined on Zumper since 2017 include several notable names: North Beach (from $3,400 to $3,010), Inner Richmond (from $2,850 to $2,730), the Mission ($3,680 to $3,560), and the Castro ($3,570 to $3,540).