Posted Oct 28, 2014

San Francisco: A Look into the Q3 Quarterly Report

See the latest Lovely data here.

Falling just below neighboring city Palo Alto, San Francisco continues to top the charts as one of the most expensive cities to rent across the nation. In fact, in our recent quarterly report, San Francisco clocked in as the second highest rent city in the nation, but hey, who’s counting? Over the past few years, talk of rising (and astronomical) rents has consumed Bay Area locals. Rising rents create immense challenges for San Francisco renters, causing many of them to move to surrounding cities like Oakland and San Jose. As a result, we’re seeing crazy rent prices across the entire Bay Area — median rental rates so extreme that 7 out of the top 10 cities with the highest rent prices across the nation are in the Bay Area. The question: when is the bubble finally going to burst?

Median Rent Prices Across The Bay

Like Los Angeles and Chicago, San Francisco experienced the highest citywide median rent in almost three years — a whopping $3,488. Unlike Los Angeles and Chicago though, median rent in San Francisco during Q3 2014 was more than two times the median rent in other major cities across the U.S. A case of sticker shock for many, San Francisco renters expected to pay more than two times the median rent that Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Seattle and Jersey City renters (to name just a few) were faced with.

Median rent nearing $3,500 is unaffordable (and unsustainable) for most, causing renters to relocate outside of the San Francisco city limits to neighboring areas. Cities like Oakland and San Jose have seen sustained rent price growth in recent years, and these two cities in particular have even seen higher year over year growth rates compared to San Francisco. Where San Francisco experienced just over 3% year over year growth in citywide median rent in Q3, San Jose and Oakland experienced 9% and 19% year over year growth, respectively.

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Besides these three cities, we must also consider the other Bay Area cities that have created a ton of buzz with the recent declaration that seven out of the 10 highest rent cities are located throughout the Bay. Even crazier? 15 out of 23 cities on the top 30 list of highest rent cities in the nation are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. New York City, Santa Monica, and Hoboken snuck into the top 10 list to take a bit of the spotlight off of the following Bay Area cities: Palo Alto, San Francisco, Cupertino, San Mateo, Redwood City, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale.

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*Note: Brentwood, CA is mapped in Southern California, but the data is actually referring to the city of Brentwood in Contra Costa County in Northern California

A Look Into the ‘Hoods

With the citywide median rent during Q3 at $3,488, it’s no surprise that renters were hard pressed to find a San Francisco neighborhood where the median rent was under $3,000. Presidio Heights, which was named the the most expensive neighborhood to rent in according to our quarterly report, proved that rent prices in the city were through the roof. While topping the charts with a median rent of $5,100, Presidio Heights did create a pretty wide gap between San Francisco’s runner up for most expensive neighborhood, Dogpatch, which boasted a median rent of $4,288 — or almost 19% less than Presidio Heights. Just behind Dogpatch were popular neighborhoods, Cow Hollow and Russian Hill, both coming in at $4,200. These four neighborhoods, among others, prove to be legitimate contenders in the ongoing rent price battle between New York City and San Francisco. While San Francisco in it’s entirety blew the city of New York out of the water during Q3 ($3,488 vs. $2,800 — there’s really no competition), the results aren’t as clear when you look on a neighborhood level. While Presidio Heights still clocked in at a higher rental rate than New York counterpart, Tribeca, New York neighborhoods Battery Park City ($4,850) and Union Square ($4,425) actually beat their San Francisco peers.

Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco “steals” (let’s face it, a “steal” is a relative term when we’re talking about a city with a median rent nearing $3,500!) occurred in less central areas like Oceanview and Mission Terrace — the only two San Francisco neighborhoods with median rents under $2,000. A handful of neighborhoods fell under the $3,000 mark, including Hunters Point, Hayes Valley and the Richmond District, but the overwhelming majority existed over $3,000!

When you’re talking about a city with a median rent approaching $3,500, you might imagine the conversations surrounding the rental landscape in San Francisco often consume the culture. The question that still crosses everyone’s mind: when will San Francisco become somewhat affordable again? Stay tuned for future articles on the blog where we take deeper looks into the San Francisco rental market, including the bubble, it’s impact on surrounding cities, and more.

Do you currently rent in San Francisco? How does your rental rate compare to the citywide median? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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Rental Market Report - San Francisco


Elizabeth Pullman

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Elizabeth oversees Marketing at Lovely. It is her goal to make sure every single person nationwide knows about Lovely and Lovely Pro!

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