Yeah, wow. Even though the city is far from the ghost town it was in the summer/fall of 2020, San Francisco is now the only one of 52 metro areas in the country with 1 million+ people where rents remain below March 2020 levels.

It's probably not the case across the board — and these national-trend rent surveys tend mostly only to factor in published rents by corporate-type landlords. But the SF metro area as defined by Apartment List — which includes Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Marin counties as well as the city proper — is still seeing average rents below what they were before COVID-19 hit. This is according to Apartment List's latest National Rent Report, which also found a sharp national decline in rents over the last three months.

"The timing of the recent cooldown in the rental market is consistent with the typical seasonal trend, but its magnitude has been notably sharper than what we’ve seen in the past, suggesting that the recent swing to falling rents is reflective of a broader shift in market conditions beyond seasonality alone," Apartment List says.

Rents have dipped further the past three months than they do in a typical fall, but overall for the year, rents across the country are 4.6% higher than in 2021, and well about 2020, when there were declines in seven out of nine months starting in March.

In contrast to SF, San Jose and New York have seen the most significant rent increases in the last 12 months, with 8% and 7% average hikes respectively. The slowest rent growth in the last year has been in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sacramento. But if you look at the 32 months since March 2020, San Francisco's metro stands alone with an overall 3% decline in average rents.

That decline is partly being driven by Oakland, where rents are still 13.5% below March 2020 rates.

As Apartment List notes in its city data, San Francisco remains the eighth most expensive metro area for overall median monthly rent in December ($2,238). And the median two-bedroom rent of $2,609 — where are these $2600 two-bedrooms? — is the most expensive in the country beating out San Jose, Boston, and New York. Overall, Apartment List says, San Francisco rents are up year-over-year by 16.5% since 2021.

Photo: Paulius Dragunas