Recent reports of a sharp drop in apartment rents in both San Francisco and Oakland shouldn’t catch any plugged-in readers by surprise, as it’s a trend we first noticed forming last year. And as we first reported a couple of months ago, asking rents in the two cities had dropped back to 2014 pricing.

Since then, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco – including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments – has actually ticked up a percent or two to around $4,150 a month, but remains over 5 percent lower on a year-over-year basis and 7 percent below a peak in the fourth quarter of 2015, based on a comparison of over 2,000 listings and with a bit of seasonality in play.

At the same time, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in Oakland has continued to drop. And at $2,350 per month, it’s down 15 percent over the past year and peak.

And as such, the premium for renting an apartment in San Francisco versus Oakland, which had been ticking down over the past two years, started ticking back up in 2017.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by E. Gonsalves

    Once all the new 3,000 under construction Oakland units come online Oakland median rents will go much higher. New construction in Oakland in JLS, Uptown, City Center rent much higher than older apartment buildings in east and west Oakland.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Increasing supply – w/ no shift in demand – will INCREASE prices? Stand by for a phone call: I think the administration in D.C. may have a place for you.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        The relevant point is that a shift in the mix of units available in newer buildings, and with greater amenities, will drive the average/median price of securing an apartment up (as will the resultant gentrification).

      • Posted by Arden

        you entirely missed the point of his post, which is that the mix is a likely factor here, where there could be a relatively smaller percentage of higher end units in Oakland, which would change when the new construction completes. whether it’s true or not, who knows, but it’s a valid point to consider.

      • Posted by Notcom

        I’m well aware of his point, that product mix effect (average) prices, thank you. But everyone seems to be missing mine: just because you put something on the market doesn’t mean it’s rented; if we’re seeing a cooling in the market, then a shift in the demand should be considered, and a decline in prices for each class may offset a larger proportion of higher end units.

        • Posted by E. Gonsalves

          I think we are going to see much of the new supply in Oakland turned into condos. The for sale market in Oakland is very strong right now.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          Keep in mind that the vacancy rate for large rental buildings in the East Bay has been running around 3 percent (versus 6 percent in San Francisco).

          • Posted by E. Gonsalves

            Really? I didn’t realize that. Thanks for the figures.

  2. Posted by sassySFboy

    Good news…SF is best as diverse city of wealthy people of all diversities.

  3. Posted by unlivable city

    Rents are going to rocket here, because banks are almost impossible to borrow from these days, especially if you are borrowing a lot.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Yeah maybe in other cities where buying and renting are somewhat comparable, but for most SF residents buying is way out of reach.

      Take a look at Hotpads.com and you’ll see why asking rents are up. Pie in the sky listings that have gotten zero responses. Landlords reading MSM fake news and not keeping up with the market conditions.

    • Posted by Evoila

      What sort of crack are you smoking? If you are borrowing a lot, you probably have money, which means you don’t need to call some lender out of the phone book. You call UBS, Merrill Lynch, or First Republic. They are willing to give you loans with big limits. I got approved for a $2M loan from an investment bank, interest only for 10 years with start rate of 2.25% (albeit floating), at a 75% LTV.

      The money’s out there. You just need to know where to look for it.

  4. Posted by Amewsed

    New buildings in SF have been offering rental concessions to tenants since last year which are signs of market weakness. If it happens here, what is the rationale for the rents not to drop in Oakland’s new market rate rental developments? The larger developments will offer rental concessions off the books so their numbers can look high.

    Instead of arguing which is the better city, Oakland should focus on being self-sufficient and create jobs in the Oakland so its residents do not have to commute into SF for work.

    • Posted by E. Gonsalves

      Oakland needs to create jobs not just for Oakland residents, but also for the 2.6 million east bay residents, many of which spend 30 minutes idling at the toll plaza in Oakland attempting to get to jobs in San Francisco. The reason that Oakland maybe a stronger market than San Francisco is that it has a natural geographic advantage. We tend to look at everything through a San Francisco centric prism.

  5. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Pretty remarkable that you can have such a big disparity in rents between two closely connected cities. For all the Oakland cheerleading we endure in this forum, people voting with their wallets certainly think Oakland is crap.

    • Posted by Dave

      The interesting thing is the median rent in Seattle is not that much more than Oakland. A friend moved there from San Leandro recently and he is amazed that he is paying just several hundred more per month in rent there in a millennial complex with amenities he did not have in his SL apartment. That said rents are going up faster in Seattle than in any major US city.

      It may be there is not as much a disparity as these numbers indicate. Oakland has more lower end rentals which is pulling its numbers down. I’d be interested to see an apples to apples comparison of rents for an upscale SF place and an equivalent Oakland upscale place.

      • Posted by E. Gonsalves

        People are paying over 3,000 per month for new one bedroom construction in DTO.

    • Posted by E. Gonsalves

      No one thinks that of Oakland. Oakland is a fantastic city and getting better every year.

      • Posted by anon

        Funny, my former CFO works in Oakland now, after 20 years in SF. He said he only hears gunshots every couple weeks. LOL.

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