SF beats Boston to regain title for second-costliest rents

One-bedrooms run $3K monthly as “new normalization” defines market, Zumper says

Zumper's Anthemos Georgiades (Zumper, Getty)
Zumper's Anthemos Georgiades (Zumper, Getty)

San Francisco one-bedroom rents rose nearly 2 percent in February, which was just enough to regain its second-most-expensive rental market title from Boston, according to a new Zumper report.

The average rent in San Francisco is now $3,000 for a one-bedroom and $4,000 for a two-bedroom. The two-bedroom rate is on par with New York, the most expensive market in the country with a one-bedroom average of $3,550 in February. That’s a drop of nearly 4 percent compared to January but represents a nearly 15 percent increase year-over-year. 

Boston was also up annually but month-to-month one-bedrooms dropped as well, to just $10 below San Francisco averages for one-bedrooms and about $600 less for two bedrooms. San Jose retained the number six spot and Oakland was eleventh, with the East Bay city showing the biggest Bay Area year-over-year increase at more than 7 percent. 

“Boston and New York may be settling back into seasonal patterns, where fewer people move during the winter months and prices rise during the busier moving seasons,” said Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades, via email. “At the same time, many companies in San Francisco and San Jose have called employees back to work in recent months, creating more demand in both areas and driving up prices.” 

In many ways the new data shows a return to normalcy after “huge, pandemic-era swings,” he said. During the last six months, Zumper has seen people who moved during the pandemic either return to their previous home or stay settled in their new locations, he added.

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Many of the most-explosive rental markets over the last year saw declines this month. Miami one-bedrooms are up more than 7 percent year over year, but dropped 2.6 percent in February to $2,600 for one-bedrooms. 

A similar story played out in L.A. and San Diego, where rents were up over 7.5 percent year over year, but dropped about 1 percent last month. An even bigger drop in Washington D.C. gave San Diego the wiggle room to move up to the eighth-most-expensive rental market spot.

They were the only other cities in the top 10 to swap places in February, but fourth-place Jersey City could soon pass both Boston and San Francisco if it continues its current upwards trajectory. Jersey City one-bedrooms rose nearly 5 percent last month, putting it only $20 below San Francisco rents, though it is still well behind the two-bedroom rate. Honolulu had the biggest increase in the country at more than 6 percent, while the biggest drops in the country (in Syracuse, Madison, Bakersfield and Boise) were declines of more than 6 percent. Nationwide, rents were flat, according to the Zumper data.

“While rents increases seem to be cooling off nationally, many markets continue to see healthy, marginal increases and decreases as we head towards a new normalization in rents,” according to the report.

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