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San Francisco Apartment Rents Drop, Dragged Partially By Office Market

San Francisco

Apartment rents in San Francisco are down 10.9% since Q1 2020, the quarter before the bottom fell out of the city's office market.

The decrease in rents can be tied to the city's office performance, according to San Francisco Chief Economist Ted Egan.

Egan suggested to the San Francisco Business Times that the neighborhoods hit hardest by the rent declines were those that were previously occupied by downtown office workers, noting that units east of Van Ness Avenue or north of Cesar Chavez Street saw larger declines in rent compared to neighborhoods in the western and southern portions of the city. 

The city’s overall median rent hit $2,238 in November, according to data from Apartment List. Despite the drop, San Francisco remains one of the most expensive U.S. cities in which to rent a residence. 

San Francisco has grappled with affordability for more than a decade before the coronavirus, following the city’s tech boom. New affordable stock often takes several years to enter the market, tied up in high development costs, long permit approval times and neighborhood resistance. 

While the city passed a residential vacancy tax in November, meant to disincentive landlords from holding onto vacant units in an attempt to command higher rent, the ultimate impact of the measure is expected to be minimal.