Rents march upward across the Bay Area

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February 21, 2020

The Mercury News, Emily Deruy

Rents continue to rise across much of the Bay Area, including in the region’s three major cities.

According to a new report from Rent Cafe, which tracks rent trends, average rents in Oakland ticked up 5.7 percent to $2,935 from January 2019 to this January. In San Francisco, rents rose 2.3 percent to $3,700 during the same time, and in San Jose they went up a relatively modest .4 percent to $2,719.

Across the Bay Area, rents rose fastest in Napa — up 6.8 percent since January 2019 to $2,219, followed by Oakland and then Daly City, up 4.9 percent to $2,618.

Seema Rupani, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said rents in places like Oakland and Berkeley have risen as more people have left San Francisco for the East Bay, pushing out longtime residents, particularly African Americans.

“The rent is just impossible,” Rupani said, adding that displacement has also meant “loss of community.”

But apartment living hasn’t gotten pricier everywhere in the region. Rents in Richmond are down 8.1 percent to $2,160 compared to last year and rents in Petaluma declined 4.1 percent to $2,282.

Menlo Park remains the most expensive place to rent, with apartments costing $4,316 in January. Palo Alto ranks second at $3,805. San Francisco, Redwood City and Cupertino, home to Apple, round out the top five. Antioch and Vallejo are the most affordable, at $1,787 and $1,797, respectively. Fairfield, Vacaville and Santa Rosa are the next most affordable places to live in the Bay Area.

The figures, compiled by Rent Cafe’s sister company Yardi Matrix, are drawn from market-rate, multifamily properties with at least 50 units, meaning smaller complexes and affordable housing developments are not included.

Nationally, rents climbed 3 percent year-over-year, or about $43 more per month, to $1,463 — the slowest pace in 18 months, according to Rent Cafe.

Yet, the company says it expects rents to “maintain an upward streak throughout 2020,” driven by an increase in the number of renters, particularly high earners, throughout the U.S. According to the report, 157 percent more Americans making more than $150,000 a year started renting in the last decade, eschewing more traditional home ownership.

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