SF does not have the highest rents in the Bay Area

Clouds over SF rooftops.Via Shutterstock

Menlo Park and Palo Alto beat SF when it comes to stratospheric rents

For years, San Francisco’s soaring rent prices have made headlines, with tales of $1,200-per-month bunk beds and split bedrooms shocking the nation. And yet, not only is SF’s median rent not the highest in the country, but some Bay Area cities even outpace San Francisco’s monstrous housing costs.

This week, rental site Rent Cafe released its 2019 mid-year rent report for the Bay Area, tallying activity in 260 cities, including 44 in the Bay Area. The results are exhausting: In the entire region, only one city, Alameda, has seen its median rent drop since January (by $85, down to $2,513).

Rent Cafe’s data, which represents all apartment sizes and comes by way of Santa Barbara-based analysts Yardi Matrix, holds that SF’s median median market rent is $3,697 per month in June of this year.

That’s well more than double the site’s reported national average of $1,465. But you don’t have to travel very far from San Francisco to run into worse news: Menlo Park, home of Facebook, has the highest rents in the region, averaging $4,638 per month.

Palo Alto also beat out SF with a startling $3,857 per month price tag. The cheapest rents in the Bay Area, on the other hand, are in Vallejo, which at $1,773 per month is close to the nationwide median.

It’s worth noting that Rent Cafe does not list very many homes in these cities; right now the site hosts 27 Menlo Park homes, and only 32 in Palo Alto, making for small and potentially volatile sample sizes.

But both of those Silicon Valley cities also have more expensive median rents listed with the U.S. Census. In fact, here’s how all 44 of the cited cities compared to one another in gross median rents for 2017 (still the most recent year for which the census has data this particular statistic):

  • Cupertino: $2,829
  • Foster City: $2,763
  • Palo Alto: $2,379
  • Dublin: $2,353
  • San Ramon: $2,152
  • Sunnyvale: $2,147
  • Pleasanton: $2,140
  • Menlo Park: $2,111
  • Pacifica: $2,110
  • Mountain View: $2,103
  • Milpitas: $2,099
  • Santa Clara: $2,096
  • San Mateo: $2,041
  • Emeryville: $2,038
  • Fremont: $2,028
  • San Bruno: $1,999
  • Larkspur: $1,987
  • Redwood City: $1,956
  • Campbell: $1,923
  • Daly City: $1,899
  • Union City: $1,883
  • Pleasant Hill: $1,856
  • San Jose: $1,822
  • Walnut Creek: $1,803
  • Livermore: $1,768
  • San Rafael: $1,718
  • San Francisco: $1,709
  • Petaluma: $1,667
  • Martinez: $1,626
  • Alameda: $1,607
  • Hayward: $1,562
  • Antioch: $1,562
  • Napa: $1,546
  • Rohnert Park: $1,539
  • Berkeley: $1,523
  • Pittsburg: $1,517
  • Vacaville: $1,470
  • Concord: $1,459
  • Fairfield: $1,445
  • Santa Rosa: $1,432
  • San Leandro: $1,392
  • Richmond: $1,329
  • Vallejo: $1,301
  • Oakland: $1,255

Surprisingly, San Francisco was well below the median of medians in the entire region two years ago. Of course, there’s a big difference between the city’s actual median rent (as seen in the census) and its market median rent (as seen on sites like Rent Cafe).

Even so, the takeaway here is that it’s not implausible that a city like Menlo Park may turn out to be the Bay Area’s priciest renter locale.

As for why San Francisco’s actual rents are low compared to its neighbors and its own market rent prices? It’s hard to say, but it is worth noting that SF is one of only 15 cities in California with rent control—and according to the SF Planning Department, that covers well over half of SF renters.

SOURCE:  https://sf.curbed.com/2019/7/17/20697552/median-rents-san-francisco-bay-area-highest-2019

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