Report: Bay Area apartment rental market returning to pre-pandemic levels

Mark Prado

A new report from RENTCafé  looking at  2.5 million rental applications in 2021 shows renting activity is back to pre-pandemic levels and interest in big city apartments is surging.

Here’s what’s happening in the Bay Area:

  • The report puts the worries about people fleeing San Francisco to rest: overall renting activity jumped by 79% year over year in San Francisco, while San Jose saw its rental applications increase by 54% in 2021. In fact, San Francisco is the second most active rental market now, after New York City.
  • Who supported this rebound?
    • The most active renting generation, Zoomers, accounted for the largest increase in applications for apartments – a 198% jump compared to last year in San Francisco and an 87% hike in San Jose.
    • Unlike the national trend which shows that high-earning renters were the most active income group, renters earning less than $50,000 a year were the most eager to switch apartments in both San Francisco and San Jose. In San Francisco, the number of rental applications coming from renters making between $25,000 and $50,000 a year more than tripled since 2020.
  • Looking at renter movement, application data for San Francisco reveals that the city retained its appeal among apartment dwellers. The number of renters moving to San Francisco from somewhere else more than doubled (105%) since last year. Those coming from San Jose, Oakland, Daly City and Berkeley make up more than half of the total applications from people moving in.
  • Of the 30 largest U.S. cities, San Jose recorded the most significant increase in the number of rental applications coming from people moving within the city — renters who were already San Jose residents and looked for a better deal this year.

The full report is here.

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