For first time, San Francisco falls to fourth-priciest rental market

New York, Jersey City and Boston all have more expensive one-bedrooms

Zumper: San Francisco drops to fourth-most-expensive rental market for first time ever

San Francisco has dropped another notch and now ranks as the fourth-most-expensive rental market for one-bedroom apartments in the country, according to listing site Zumper. 

The city has never dropped this low in the rankings before, said Zumper’s Crystal Chen, though rents have been fairly stable all year, with median one-bedrooms “hovering” around $3,000 a month. 

“It’s more so that other cities have seen growing rents versus SF rents dropping a ton,” she said via email.

The change in position is notable as part of the city’s continued decline from its long-held spot as the most expensive rental market in the country. It actually took over a year of pandemic-era departures and subsequent rent reductions for the city to drop behind current first-place New York City in August 2021. It fell to third for the first time in May this year. 

New York hit a new high of $4,300 a month for one-bedrooms in November, a 13.5 percent year-over-year increase. Second-place Jersey City was far lower at $3,090 and third-place Boston is only $20 above San Francisco, with a median of $2,990. Miami maintained the fifth-place position at a distant $2,600 median and its rents are on the decline, so it is unlikely to catch up to San Francisco any time soon. 

With Boston’s rent so close to San Francisco’s, they may switch places a few times in the next few months, Chen said, but otherwise the top five markets are not likely to change through the winter since it is typically the spring and summer months that experience the most movement. 

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Pandemic-era hotspots are also starting to drop into more sustainable long-term rental trends, according to Zumper data, with “Zoomtowns” in Texas and Arizona reporting some of the biggest year-over-year declines. 

“We’re seeing most major markets settle into their new resting heart rates,” Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiade said in a statement. “Miami, for example, is more expensive than pre-pandemic; but it’s no longer seeing steep hikes month after month.”

Locally, San Jose’s year-over-year rent price changes are relatively flat, and it retained its sixth-place spot just below Miami with a monthly median of $2,480. Oakland also held its 11th place spot, though rents are down 6 percent year-over-year to just under $2,100 a month. 

The seasonal slowdown could impactOakland first or it could have more apartment buildings offering concessions to attract tenants than in San Francisco and San Jose, Chen said.

San Francisco two-bedroom rents ranked second to only New York at nearly $4,000 per month, but Zumper puts more weight on one-bedroom rents for judging the health of a market because that is the unit type most in demand by renters, Chen said.

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