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March Brought Oakland Rent Growth To An Abrupt Halt

In a month where most of the Bay Area saw residential rent growth plateau, Oakland seems to have taken one of the biggest hits.

After a period of explosive growth, Oakland saw its most tepid rental growth in years.

As apartment rent growth climbed about 1% in San Francisco (to $3,667) and San Jose ($2,817) in March, it dipped by about that much in Oakland (to $2,909), according to a new report by RENTCafé.

The drop follows a relative boom in Oakland and other East Bay cities last year, when Darin Ranelletti, policy director of housing security in the Oakland mayor's office, told Bisnow the city outpaced San Francisco in housing production, a rare occurrence. 

It also comes as California processes over 100,000 claims for unemployment insurance each day and multifamily leasing around the country slows as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

On a year-over-year basis, rent growth looks better for Oakland, though it pales in comparison to what the city saw last year. Oakland rents jumped 2.7% year-over-year last month after soaring 8% year-over-year in March 2019, according to RENTCafé, which uses Yardi Matrix data.

The overall Bay Area year-over-year growth rate in March came out to 2.3%, the slowest start to a rental season since 2017, RENTCafé found. 

"Given the volatility of current economic conditions we expect our projections will change materially over the coming weeks and months," said Doug Ressler, manager of Business Intelligence at Yardi Matrix.

"We expect the impact of coronavirus to last three to six months, before a steady recovery boosts the economy once again."

Certain Bay Area submarkets appear unaffected by the economic slowdown, at least so far. Napa and Fairfield saw year-over-year apartment rental increases in March of 6% and 5%, respectively. 

Others, like Rohnert Park and Menlo Park, have already seen yearly drops of 2.3% and 1.9%, respectively