San Francisco rental market rockets back, with Gen Z leading demand

San Francisco is second-most-active rental market, after NYC

San Francisco /
Aug.August 19, 2021 10:00 AM
Rental applications in San Francisco in the first half of 2021 were up 79 percent compared with the first half of 2020 (Getty)
Rental applications in San Francisco in the first half of 2021 were up 79 percent compared with the first half of 2020 (Getty)

After a much-publicized exodus, young people are returning to San Francisco in droves, according to a recent survey of 2.5 million rental applications from listing site RENTCafé.

Rental applications in San Francisco in the first half of 2021 were up 79 percent compared with the first half of 2020. Only New York had a more active rental market, with rental applications up 95 percent during the same period.

San Francisco was especially attractive to Gen Z applicants, the oldest of whom were born in 1997. Interest in the city from this group was almost triple a year ago. National trends show that 34 percent of incoming renters make more than $100,000 a year, compared with only 11 percent who make between $25,000 and $50,000 a year.

In San Francisco, the most active income groups were renters earning between $25,000 to $75,000 a year, said Florentina Sarac, a research analyst for RENTCafé who contributed to the study.

“Even though high-income renters continue to boast the biggest share of the number of applications (41%), we noticed that they moved less compared to last year,’’ Sarac said.

Sarac said these lower-income renters are taking advantage of the rental downturn in the city to move to a better neighborhood or a larger apartment.

San Francisco is attracting younger, less-affluent renters from around the Bay who don’t want to miss out on their opportunity to lock in rents that are still around 20 percent below pre-pandemic rates. Those coming from San Jose, Oakland, Daly City and Berkeley made up more than half of the total applications of people moving into the city, according to the survey.

San Jose saw a similar trend. Its rental activity was up 54 percent compared with last year and, out of the 30 largest U.S. cities, San Jose had the most significant increase in the number of rental applications coming from current residents.

“The demand was driven mostly by renters looking for a better apartment,” Sarac said.

While the rise in demand in Bay Area cities began to pick up in the spring as the vaccination rollout was moving full-steam ahead, Sarac couldn’t determine how the surging delta variant might impact the desire to return.

“It’s difficult to predict what will happen considering that this pandemic continues to take us by surprise a year after it started,” she said.





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    Mark Zuckerberg with 1743 Westbrook Avenue (Getty, Liveplayrealestate)
    Facebook birthplace hits market for first time
    Facebook birthplace hits market for first time
    Bell Partners president and ceo Lili F. Dunn with renderings of Cadence Apartments at 400 Cypress Avenue in South San Francisco (Chet Frohlich, Bell Partners Inc.)
    Builder sells 260-unit apartment complex in South San Francisco
    Builder sells 260-unit apartment complex in South San Francisco
    46400 Clear Ridge Rd (Redfin) Big Sur, 35 Million
    Silicon Valley VC exec behind record listing in famous coastal enclave
    Silicon Valley VC exec behind record listing in famous coastal enclave
    Pop Sugar co-founder Krista Moatz and 207 Maple Street in Presidio Heights (Redfin, Pop Sugar, iStock)
    Sweet new listing: Pop Sugar co-founder tops Presidio Heights listings at $9.5M
    Sweet new listing: Pop Sugar co-founder tops Presidio Heights listings at $9.5M
    RMG Housing CEO Tim Roth and a rendering of 7300 MacArthur Boulevard  (RMG Housing, BDE Architecture)
    Developer plans 200-unit apartment complex in east Oakland
    Developer plans 200-unit apartment complex in east Oakland
    Full circle: Telegraph Hill home with car turntable goes for well over asking at $15.5M
    Full circle: Telegraph Hill home with car turntable goes for well over asking at $15.5M
    Full circle: Telegraph Hill home with car turntable goes for well over asking at $15.5M
    The Arena Hotel at 817 The Alameda in San Jose (TripAdvisor)
    San Jose gets $25M to convert downtown hotel for homeless
    San Jose gets $25M to convert downtown hotel for homeless
    Oxford Properties' Michael Turner, City Center Realty's Sigurd Anderson and Emeryville Mayor John Bauters with 5959 Shellmound Avenue (Oxford Properties, City Center Realty Partners, City of Emeryville)
    Emeryville demands $20M in lieu of homes on commercial project
    Emeryville demands $20M in lieu of homes on commercial project
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...