Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a regular column exploring what you can rent for a set dollar amount in different neighborhoods. Is one person’s studio another person’s townhouse? Today’s price: $3,800.
Housing terms take on a certain elasticity in advertising: “condo,” “loft,” “flat,” “penthouse,” can mean almost anything in the hands of a dedicated landlord or leasing agent. This unit in the Mission, though, stands out for the pronounced ambiguity of its promise of a “loft-like Victorian flat” on 22nd Street. “Architect owner and designer left the Victorian bones and added a modern fantastic kitchen and contemporary details,” the ad promises, along with “hardwood floors and high ceilings in the living room, dining room” and “small private deck.” It’s a two-level setup with one bed, one bath, and 875 square feet. Whether any of the Victorian or loft-like elements a pronounced enough to create a real identity for this home is up to the renter, as is ferreting out the pet policy, which the ad doesn’t mention. The price on the other hand is definite: $3,800 per month.
This competing home in SoMa makes a bid for authenticity, promising renters a “true live-work loft,” although the unit’s design seems tilted distinctly toward the condo set. “The soaring ceilings have four skylights, allowing plenty of natural light,” and “gorgeous hardwood floors were recently installed throughout,” notes the listing. In a bid to burnish the neighborhood credentials, the ad specifically mentions that “a striking new building by renowned architect Stanley Saitowitz was recently built” on the same block. The place comes with one bed, one and a half baths, and just over 900 square feet. The going price is $3,800 per month. No word about pets.
Some rentals speak for themselves, or at least have parties of few words speaking on their behalf. In the case, the sales pitch for the Richmond flat on Geary and 24th Avenue consists entirely of three sentences: “Top floor, two bedroom, one bathroom flat with large living and dining room. One block from the nearest bus stop and restaurants. No pets; tenant pays utilities.” That, along with the asking rent $3,750 per month, makes for a real wham, bam, and you’re done kind of offer. Some words should have been spent on the pastel interiors and French doors separating living and dining room in a decidedly non-open floorpan.
The biggest offering on the slate is a three-bedroom, one-bath, 1,175-square-foot house in Mission Terrace squeezed between the freeway and Alemany Boulevard. The Planning Department dates the house to 1941. Potential takers should note some mild shenanigans with the bedroom count: the ad fesses up that “technically it is a two bedroom house, but the dining room could be used as the third bedroom”—a seemingly farcical concession, but this is 2019 and renters still often squeeze third and fourth roommates into their living rooms in order to make ends meet as best they can. For $3,700 per month, another roommate might come in handy. The leasing agent notes that the location is “close to Glen Park BART,” which is indeed just on the other side of the freeway.
Finally, here’s a 900-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath mid-level unit in the Marina District, which features high ceilings, a living/dining room open space, wood-burning fireplace. The ad specifically calls the neighborhood the “modern Marina District,” which makes sense, as nobody is renting in the Marina of the past anymore—although if you did it would presumably cost less than $3,800 per month. Also of note: No pets.
Which rental would you choose?
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Mission Terrace house