Rents across the Bay Area fall by around 4%

Experts attribute the year-over-year dip in August to more housing

Rents Across the Bay Area Fell in August
ApartmentList's Rob Warnock (ApartmentList, Getty)

Bay Area rents have seen their biggest decline in years.

Apartment rents in greater San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland dropped 4.3 percent to a median $1,892 in August, the biggest year-over-year decline in 27 months, the San Jose Mercury News reported, citing figures from

At the same time, rents in greater San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara fell 3.1 percent, while rents statewide dropped 2.4 percent.

Real estate experts attribute the decline in rents to more new housing. 

With more choices for tenants, they say landlords must make accommodations. To keep their apartments filled, some landlords offer discounts for tenants who re-up their leases. Owners of older properties must renovate to compete with newer units.

“Berkeley has been adding new housing at a really fast rate,” Krista Gulbransen, executive director of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, told the Mercury News. She added that recent housing laws have allowed more projects to be permitted faster.

“Tenants are able to make more demands … whereas that hasn’t been true for so long in the Bay Area — it’s been the other way around,” Gulbransen said.

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But Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, said the new dip in rents gives little relief for low-income tenants.

“Rents are still so high, there’s just a huge amount of people who can’t afford them,” Perry told the newspaper. “A temporary blip up or down isn’t going to change that.”

Monthly rents last month in Contra Costa County fell 4.9 percent in a year to a median $2,025. In Alameda County, rents fell 4.5 percent to $2,068; in San Francisco, rents fell 4.3 percent to $2,207; in San Mateo County, rents fell 3.6 percent to $2,478; and in Santa Clara County, rents fell 3.1 percent to $2,560. 

After decades of sluggish apartment construction, nobody should expect expensive Bay Area rents to become much more affordable soon, according to Rob Warnock, an analyst with ApartmentList.

But with the slow autumn and winter months approaching, apartment hunters could see prices ebb toward spring, he said.

— Dana Bartholomew

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