Massive Shifts Underway, Rental Market Reacts in Near-Real Time: Rents Plunge in San Francisco & Oil Patch, Drop in Expensive Cities. But Long List of Double-Digit Gainers

Rents in San Francisco are still crazy-overpriced.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

There are now at least three factors that have plowed into the US housing market – and the rental market is reacting in near-real time to them: The unicorn-startup bust that began last year and built up into a crescendo this year; the Pandemic-inspired move to work-from-home; and the oil-and-gas bust that took on special vigor this spring when crude oil prices totally collapsed.

People are bailing out of some places and moving elsewhere. In the most expensive cities, rents are dropping, but in other cities – a lot of them – rents are skyrocketing by the double-digits.

Crazy-overpriced San Francisco rents.

Rents in San Francisco plunged more than in any other major market in June. This is still the most expensive city to rent in, though there are a few zip codes in Manhattan and in Los Angeles where rents are more expensive than in the most expensive zip code in San Francisco. But it got less expensive in June.

In June, the median asking rent for a one-bedroom apartment dropped 2.4% from May, to $3,280, down 11.8% from June last year, which made the city the fastest-dropping rental market in the US.

The median asking rent for two-bedroom apartments in June fell 1.8% from May to $4,340 and was down 9.6% year-over-year.

The still crazy-overpriced San Francisco market – it’s called the “Housing Crisis” locally – had hit a ceiling in October 2015, with the median asking rent for a 1-BR apartment at $3,670 and for a 2-BR at $5,000. Then rents declined by close to 10% into 2017 before picking up again. While 1-BR rents eked out a new record in June last year (by $50), 2-BR rents never got close to their October 2015 record and are now 13.2% below it.

These are median asking rents. “Median” means half the asking rents are higher, and half are lower. “Asking rent” is the advertised rent. This is a measure of the current market in near-real time, like the price tag in a store that can be changed from day to day to attract shoppers, depending on market conditions. Asking rent is not a measure of what tenants are currently paying on their existing leases or under rent-control programs.

A sea of red in the 17 most expensive rental markets.

The table below shows the 17 most expensive major rental markets by median asking rents. The shaded area shows their respective peaks and changes from those peaks. Almost all of them have declined from their peaks – with eight of them by the double digits, led by Chicago and Honolulu, where rents have gotten crushed since their respective peaks in 2015.

Seattle is now solidly on the list of double-digit decliners, booking the third largest decline-from-peak in 2-BR rents (-15.1%), behind Chicago and Honolulu, and the ninth largest in 1-BR rents (-9.5%).

Denver, not long ago one of the hottest rental markets in the US, has frozen over, with declines-from-peak in the -10% range.

The rents we’re discussing here are for apartments in apartment buildings, including new construction. Not included are rents for single-family houses, condos for rent, rooms, efficiency apartments, and apartments with three or more bedrooms. The data is collected by Zumper from over 1 million active listings, including Multiple Listings Service (MLS) in the 100 largest markets.

The Cities with the biggest %-declines in 1-BR rents.

The table below shows the 31 cities with the largest year-over-year rent declines in June for 1-BR apartments, with San Francisco at the top, followed by Syracuse, NY, a college town now under siege from the Pandemic. Denver, with a 10% year-over-year decline, rounds out the double-digit decliners.

Then there are a bunch of cities in the Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana oil-patch on this list, including Tulsa and Houston in 5th and 6th place. There are eight cities in Texas on this list. Louisiana is represented by New Orleans (#18) and Baton Rouge (#31).

The oil patch is in serious trouble. The oil bust started in mid-2014, when the price of crude oil grade WTI began its long decline from $100-plus per barrel to a low of $26 a barrel in early 2016. Then the price began to recover but never made it back to levels where the shale oil industry can survive long-term.

In January this year, WTI started heading lower again, and this April hit a new low, when in some places the price at the wellhead dropped to zero and when WTI futures briefly collapsed below zero for the first time ever.

Hundreds of oil-and-gas drillers have filed for bankruptcy over the past three years, and the speed and magnitude of those bankruptcy filings is picking up, with one of the biggies, Chesapeake, which is based in Oklahoma City, filing for bankruptcy on Sunday.

Houston is the center of the US oil patch, and despite its vast and diversified economy, the city has gotten slammed by the oil-and-gas bust in various ways, including by the highest office vacancy rates in the US, now at a catastrophic 24.5%.

Also on this list are Silicon Valley (San Jose), Southern California (Los Angeles, Anaheim, Santa Ana), and three markets in Florida, among others.

Biggest Declines, in %
1 BR Rent Y/Y %
1 San Francisco, CA $3,280 -11.8%
2 Syracuse, NY $860 -11.3%
3 Denver, CO $1,440 -10.0%
4 Irving, TX $1,080 -9.2%
5 Tulsa, OK $590 -9.2%
6 Houston, TX $1,100 -9.1%
7 Madison, WI $1,080 -8.5%
8 Aurora, CO $1,090 -8.4%
9 San Jose, CA $2,300 -8.0%
10 Orlando, FL $1,220 -6.9%
11 Durham, NC $1,040 -6.3%
12 Laredo, TX $780 -6.0%
13 Anaheim, CA $1,600 -5.9%
14 Jacksonville, FL $900 -5.3%
15 Charlotte, NC $1,200 -4.8%
16 Fort Worth, TX $1,100 -4.3%
17 Los Angeles, CA $2,150 -3.6%
18 New Orleans, LA $1,380 -3.5%
19 Santa Ana, CA $1,720 -3.4%
20 Seattle, WA $1,800 -2.7%
21 Plano, TX $1,130 -2.6%
22 Tampa, FL $1,150 -2.5%
23 Corpus Christi, TX $830 -2.4%
24 Louisville, KY $860 -2.3%
25 San Antonio, TX $880 -2.2%
26 Salt Lake City, UT $1,050 -1.9%
27 Raleigh, NC $1,020 -1.9%
28 New York, NY $2,890 -1.7%
29 Boston, MA $2,410 -1.6%
30 Dallas, TX $1,230 -1.6%
31 Baton Rouge, LA $820 -1.2%

The Cities with biggest %-increases in 1-BR rents.

OK, get ready. Among the 100 largest rental markets are 9 cities where rents skyrocketed by over 15% year-over-year in June. And except for Philadelphia, all of them sport median asking rents for 1-BR apartments that are well below the national median ($1,229 according to Zumper). Meaning these cities with these huge rent increases are still deep in the lower half of the rental spectrum. In total, there are 20 cities with double-digit rent increases:

Biggest Increases, in % 1 BR Rent Y/Y %
1 Cleveland, OH $940 16.0%
2 Indianapolis, IN $870 16.0%
3 Columbus, OH $810 15.7%
4 Rochester, NY $970 15.5%
5 Chattanooga, TN $900 15.4%
6 Cincinnati, OH $900 15.4%
7 Philadelphia, PA $1,510 15.3%
8 St Louis, MO $910 15.2%
9 Norfolk, VA $920 15.0%
10 Lincoln, NE $770 14.9%
11 Newark, NJ $1,320 14.8%
12 Des Moines, IA $930 14.8%
13 Detroit, MI $700 14.8%
14 Wichita, KS $700 14.8%
15 Bakersfield, CA $840 13.5%
16 Reno, NV $1,030 13.2%
17 Baltimore, MD $1,320 11.9%
18 St Petersburg, FL $1,230 11.8%
19 Akron, OH $610 10.9%
20 Boise, ID $1,060 10.4%
21 Tucson, AZ $700 9.4%
22 Buffalo, NY $1,080 9.1%
23 Chesapeake, VA $1,080 9.1%
24 Fresno, CA $1,090 9.0%
25 Nashville, TN $1,340 8.9%
26 Memphis, TN $790 8.2%
27 Sacramento, CA $1,360 7.9%
28 Colorado Springs, CO $990 7.6%
29 Arlington, TX $880 7.3%
30 Albuquerque, NM $750 7.1%
31 Gilbert, AZ $1,280 6.7%

Among the top 100 cities, 59 cities experienced year-over-year increases in the median asking rent in June. In eight cities, there was no change in rents. And in 33 cities, asking rents declined, including in many of the largest cities in the US.

The top 100 rental markets, from most expensive to least expensive.

The list goes from San Francisco to Tulsa, with asking rents for 1-BR and 2-BR apartments, in order of 1-BR rents, from $3,280 in San Francisco (-11.8%) to $590 in Tulsa (-9.2%).

These rents that are dropping in some markets and surging in others show two things:

  • Rental markets are local, and the median national rent is irrelevant at the local level.
  • Big shifts are underway in housing, and the rental market is pointing out the weaknesses in demand where it exists in near-real time.

Markets where rents are increasing 10% or 15% a year are asking for trouble unless they have a booming job market with surging wages – this was the case in San Francisco, Seattle, and other hot markets. But if they don’t have surging wages, many renters, who are already tapped out, will run out of money. And it’s renters that keep the show going.

You can search the list list via the search box in your browser. If your smartphone clips this 6-column table on the right, hold your device in landscape position:

1-BR rent Y/Y % 2-BR rent Y/Y %
1 San Francisco, CA $3,280 -11.8% $4,340 -9.6%
2 New York, NY $2,890 -1.7% $3,210 -5.0%
3 Boston, MA $2,410 -1.6% $2,900 2.1%
4 Oakland, CA $2,300 4.5% $2,850 4.8%
4 San Jose, CA $2,300 -8.0% $2,860 -4.7%
6 Washington, DC $2,270 1.3% $2,920 2.5%
7 Los Angeles, CA $2,150 -3.6% $2,960 -5.1%
8 Miami, FL $1,800 0.6% $2,310 0.4%
8 Seattle, WA $1,800 -2.7% $2,250 -6.3%
10 San Diego, CA $1,750 -0.6% $2,300 -4.2%
11 Santa Ana, CA $1,720 -3.4% $2,310 6.0%
12 Honolulu, HI $1,670 0.0% $2,100 -8.7%
13 Fort Lauderdale, FL $1,650 3.1% $2,200 4.8%
14 Anaheim, CA $1,600 -5.9% $1,960 -7.5%
14 Long Beach, CA $1,600 3.2% $2,010 0.5%
16 Chicago, IL $1,510 1.3% $1,800 0.0%
16 Philadelphia, PA $1,510 15.3% $1,750 2.9%
18 Providence, RI $1,470 2.8% $1,650 4.4%
19 Atlanta, GA $1,440 5.1% $1,840 5.7%
19 Denver, CO $1,440 -10.0% $1,880 -5.1%
21 Portland, OR $1,420 4.4% $1,750 1.2%
22 Minneapolis, MN $1,400 0.0% $1,900 3.8%
22 Scottsdale, AZ $1,400 1.4% $1,870 -2.1%
24 New Orleans, LA $1,380 -3.5% $1,610 5.2%
25 Sacramento, CA $1,360 7.9% $1,600 8.8%
26 Nashville, TN $1,340 8.9% $1,450 7.4%
27 Baltimore, MD $1,320 11.9% $1,540 10.8%
27 Newark, NJ $1,320 14.8% $1,680 14.3%
29 Gilbert, AZ $1,280 6.7% $1,490 4.2%
30 Austin, TX $1,250 5.0% $1,520 0.7%
30 Chandler, AZ $1,250 3.3% $1,440 -0.7%
32 Dallas, TX $1,230 -1.6% $1,680 -1.8%
32 St Petersburg, FL $1,230 11.8% $1,600 3.9%
34 Orlando, FL $1,220 -6.9% $1,400 -6.7%
35 Charlotte, NC $1,200 -4.8% $1,370 0.0%
36 Tampa, FL $1,150 -2.5% $1,390 4.5%
37 Plano, TX $1,130 -2.6% $1,540 -0.6%
38 Henderson, NV $1,120 -0.9% $1,350 0.0%
39 Richmond, VA $1,110 2.8% $1,370 11.4%
40 Fort Worth, TX $1,100 -4.3% $1,360 1.5%
40 Houston, TX $1,100 -9.1% $1,310 -6.4%
42 Aurora, CO $1,090 -8.4% $1,350 -9.4%
42 Fresno, CA $1,090 9.0% $1,240 8.8%
44 Buffalo, NY $1,080 9.1% $1,350 14.4%
44 Chesapeake, VA $1,080 9.1% $1,250 4.2%
44 Irving, TX $1,080 -9.2% $1,390 -10.3%
44 Madison, WI $1,080 -8.5% $1,310 -5.1%
44 Pittsburgh, PA $1,080 1.9% $1,350 3.8%
49 Boise, ID $1,060 10.4% $1,120 1.8%
50 Salt Lake City, UT $1,050 -1.9% $1,300 -5.1%
50 Virginia Beach, VA $1,050 0.0% $1,250 1.6%
52 Durham, NC $1,040 -6.3% $1,230 -3.1%
53 Reno, NV $1,030 13.2% $1,350 3.1%
54 Raleigh, NC $1,020 -1.9% $1,200 0.0%
55 Phoenix, AZ $1,010 1.0% $1,280 2.4%
56 Las Vegas, NV $1,000 1.0% $1,200 4.3%
56 Milwaukee, WI $1,000 3.1% $1,170 14.7%
58 Colorado Springs, CO $990 7.6% $1,250 7.8%
59 Rochester, NY $970 15.5% $1,130 15.3%
60 Anchorage, AK $960 5.5% $1,180 2.6%
60 Kansas City, MO $960 0.0% $1,120 0.9%
60 Mesa, AZ $960 4.3% $1,190 3.5%
63 Cleveland, OH $940 16.0% $1,000 14.9%
64 Des Moines, IA $930 14.8% $990 15.1%
65 Norfolk, VA $920 15.0% $1,070 1.9%
66 St Louis, MO $910 15.2% $1,290 12.2%
67 Chattanooga, TN $900 15.4% $1,020 14.6%
67 Cincinnati, OH $900 15.4% $1,200 7.1%
67 Jacksonville, FL $900 -5.3% $1,100 1.9%
70 Arlington, TX $880 7.3% $1,150 5.5%
70 San Antonio, TX $880 -2.2% $1,100 -1.8%
72 Glendale, AZ $870 3.6% $1,100 2.8%
72 Indianapolis, IN $870 16.0% $940 16.0%
74 Louisville, KY $860 -2.3% $940 -1.1%
74 Syracuse, NY $860 -11.3% $1,060 1.0%
76 Omaha, NE $850 1.2% $1,020 -2.9%
77 Bakersfield, CA $840 13.5% $1,070 15.1%
78 Corpus Christi, TX $830 -2.4% $1,050 -0.9%
79 Baton Rouge, LA $820 -1.2% $940 1.1%
80 Columbus, OH $810 15.7% $1,050 -1.9%
80 Knoxville, TN $810 1.3% $950 5.6%
80 Spokane, WA $810 0.0% $1,070 7.0%
83 Winston Salem, NC $800 3.9% $880 6.0%
84 Augusta, GA $790 5.3% $880 8.6%
84 Memphis, TN $790 8.2% $840 9.1%
86 Laredo, TX $780 -6.0% $890 0.0%
87 Lincoln, NE $770 14.9% $920 3.4%
88 Tallahassee, FL $760 0.0% $900 2.3%
89 Albuquerque, NM $750 7.1% $900 7.1%
89 Lexington, KY $750 0.0% $950 -3.1%
89 Oklahoma City, OK $750 4.2% $880 0.0%
92 Greensboro, NC $720 1.4% $840 1.2%
93 Detroit, MI $700 14.8% $800 15.9%
93 Tucson, AZ $700 9.4% $930 5.7%
93 Wichita, KS $700 14.8% $750 0.0%
96 El Paso, TX $680 4.6% $800 0.0%
97 Lubbock, TX $650 3.2% $840 7.7%
97 Shreveport, LA $650 0.0% $800 14.3%
99 Akron, OH $610 10.9% $730 0.0%
100 Tulsa, OK $590 -9.2% $810 1.3%

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  106 comments for “Massive Shifts Underway, Rental Market Reacts in Near-Real Time: Rents Plunge in San Francisco & Oil Patch, Drop in Expensive Cities. But Long List of Double-Digit Gainers

  1. MiTurn says:

    Very interesting article — focusing on 1BR apartments, which definitely zeroes in on a specific population. The winds of change are blowing.

  2. gary says:

    This is exactly what I have whined about in these comments so many times before. Real estate/rents can never really go down in current system. That my seem obvious to some readers, but there are a lot of famous bloggers out there who talk doom and gloom about real estate.

    My thesis is, eventually a large part of the population will be homeless, including those who are well-off now:

    If some severely overpriced region dips a bit, then some other “underpriced” region just goes up to make up for it. Then, the other region can recover again, thus restoring the “proper balance”. Then repeat the process.

    • Beardawg says:


      I concur. I have rental housing in KC MO. It has been a steady rental market since I got there 3 years ago. COVIDC has made it even better. I was frankly surprised to see that KC was not on Wolf’s list of increased rents, but I deal exclusively in single fam homes (SFH). I have seen 10% increases annually for the past 3 years. I would expect a flattening now, but with the continued urban flight to suburbs and the Midwest..???

      • gary says:

        Right on. Thank you.

      • Seems to be a rule, if someplace was Covid free last week it is going to be a hotspot next week. The virus is more efficient than the stock market at exploiting gaps in coverage.

      • Tony says:

        Flight to the Midwest? How about “Back to the Midwest”?
        Where do you think the techbros in San Francisco mostly came from?

        Whenever I see a one bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood in my hometown, San Francisco, listed on Craigslist for for over $4,000 a month, especially when managed by the highway robbery outfits, you know who they are if you have lived in the city, I FLAG it.
        That’s how you reward greedy, delusional landlords. Yes, it’s childish, per some other commenters, but, after seeing decades and dozens of friends priced out of the city, revenge is sweet. Wonder how that $45,000,000 (Yes, Millions), street to street palazzo across from the Art Institute on Chestnut is doing?

  3. 2banana says:

    Understatement of the month.

    Law, order, peace and security…families, working folks and businesses leave when it longer exists.

    “People are bailing out of some places and moving elsewhere.”

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I can’t wait for more people to leave San Francisco. It’s way too crowded and congested here. But they’re leaving Tulsa too :-]

      • 2banana says:

        Detroit was once known as the “Paris of the Midwest” and was the fourth largest city in America.

        There is no “magic dirt” that makes a place prosperous.

        Working folks, entrepreneurs and businesses move to where they are treated fairly. Part of that equation is safety, law/order, low corruption and security.

        Hong Kong is learning the same lesson.

        • Tony says:

          Part of the problem in San Francisco is that a lot of Hong Kong moved here, starting in the 1960s. Suitcases full of cash got the Paisanos to sell out and buy in Marin and Sonoma Counties, if they were smart, or Daly City, if they were dumb.

      • MCH says:

        Wolf, short of earthquakes and natural disaster, what would it take for you to relocate out of SF?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Good question. There may be a time when we have to move to Japan for my wife to take care of her aging parents, but even then, we’d likely keep a foothold in SF.

          As an adult, I have lived in lots of places, including a big part of my life in Oklahoma and Texas. I’ve lived in the DC area, in Manhattan, Paris, Brussels, and Tokyo. They all had good parts and bad parts. You just have to adjust. One place where I will never live is in rural areas. I love being outdoors in nature, but for recreation or vacation. At heart, I’m a big-city creature.

        • MCH says:

          Yep, everything is about ability to adjust and adapt. I think though as one gets older, adapting gets a bit harder. Personally, I think I’d prefer not living in a city, suburbs would be what I’d be most comfortable with.

          Having been there in the suburbs around the bay area for the last twenty years, I doubt if I’d be comfortable in the city. But even if I never go there, I can always say that I’m within a short driving distance.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Me too Wolf, as I have considered SF my fave city, or at least right up there tied with the London that was in the year 1970, though I am rather clear that both have changed A LOT!!
        GF in SF rented a very pleasant ”studio” right below Coit Tower for $100 a month in 72, left to go back east to law school, and I would wager real money she wishes she never left, eh?
        Meanwhile, re ”median” rents in st pete, new buildings sprouting all over downtown and the entire ”central district” certainly driving that median up,,, and they are starting several more right now!

        • urblintz says:

          fellow st. pete-burger here and yes the development downtown (and moving west) is crazy…. not surprised to see on the charts that it’s more expensive than Tampa… but I will be surprised if things don’t stall… I just don’t see jobs for all those presumed future apt. dwellers… not sure I ever did but now even moreso.

      • Clete says:

        Here’s the thing, though, just as with Europe 100-150 years ago: the people who will relocate will be the ones with the gumption, or wherewithal, or git-up-and-go to make it work. The people who will be left behind won’t be, to be blunt, the “best.” (Yourself and the missus, excluded, Wolf)

        • Liberty says:

          Clete: “The people who will be left behind won’t be, to be blunt, the “best.”
          Correct on. May I add: the people who stay behind are more comfortable sucking the powers that be that than to take risks to self actualize.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I’ve had the “gumption” to relocate many times. I’ve left behind lots of people. I was 17 when I moved my lazy ass on my own from Germany to Texas (chapter 1 tells you that story, and you can read the first few chapters of my book for free on Amazon by clicking on the book cover, which opens the book). Now, I’m just tired of moving to new places all the time. And I’m tired of leaving people behind, and I really love swimming in the cold polluted water of the beautiful Bay, which is just three blocks downhill from here. And I love hanging out with the other crazy people who do the same.

      • Michael Fiorillo says:

        In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

      • A lot has been said about Tulsa recently. In Blowout, a book about fracking, it explains how that business really destroyed Oklahoma.

        • leanfire_Queen says:

          Maybe a lot about Tulsa, but not enough about the genius that’s George Kaiser. My background is finance and it’s the first time in my life that I see a bank owner put his bank to the service of its city.

          A beautiful thing to see. The other remarkable thing about George Kaiser’s programs is that his foundation will evaluate them in 15 years. That’s the type of long-term thinking you cannot find anywhere else in the USA. Not even in academia.

          He’s the third biggest philanthropist in the US and the fact that he’s so low-profile makes me appreciate him even more.

  4. Cas127 says:

    Kudos on getting the peak pricing data from Zumper…that’s a lot of cutting and pasting…unless you did something low tech and just called them for a data download…(ick! Human contact…)

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, Zumper sent me historic data years ago, and I’ve been tracking it for years and updating my data for years. Now it’s on automatic pilot, just need to do monthly updates. I have been posting the first table or a version of it for about four years. How could you have missed it?

  5. Just Some Random Guy says:

    Blue coastal cities cratering. Suburbs and flyover soaring.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Since when are Texas and Oklahoma blue states?

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        Look at your list of highest increases. I count 3 cities that are anywhere near an ocean on that list. As I said coastal cities are cratering, flyover is soaring.

      • Apple says:

        Maybe this year?

        Oklahoma just voted to expand Obamacare and November election is a toss up in Texas.

      • Rory says:

        Good old ruby red…Philadelphia?

        15% rent increase y-o-y bc it was already one of the most affordable east coast cities. It’s about affordability not political slant.

      • kleen says:

        Yes some parts of Texas are getting monkey hammered. But here In the DFW, OMG what a curse. It won’t stop growing.

        People keep moving here non-stop. I’ve had with it.
        Construction going up every freaking where.

        I wish some of our large companies would move to Houston. Take thousands of people with them.

        We grew too much too fast. Growth is good, but what we had and are having here is madness.

        At one point my County was counting 81 new residents per day.

        I thought for sure sure a pandemic would slow things down…. but… Nope! New California neighbors keep pouring in and new house construction breaking ground all over the place.

        Feels like a curse.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      You are talking about the virus right?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        I think Just Some Random Guy is talking about rents. This article is about rents, so he must be talking about rents.

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          Wolf, I was teasing the guy. “Blue coastal cities cratering. Suburbs and flyover soaring.”

          That could have described the state of the coronavirus in the US with some exceptions.

  6. Sporkfed says:

    Falling rents are dropping slower than wages for most. Not good for workers.

  7. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    The real “fun” begins in August or September when the eviction moratoriums end. Then the U hauls will roar and the rents will head back towards the days of the Reagan administration.

    • andy says:

      Who’s going to do the evictions?

      • Michael Fiorillo says:

        And what are landlords going to do?

        I’m a renter with no experience as a landlord, but it seems to me that many mom-and-pop landlords will be facing the dilemma of whether to evict previously-reliable tenants who’ve fallen on hard times, and then face an uncertain climate caused by high unemployment and falling wages, or keep carrying people in the hope they can catch up… not a pleasant choice.

        During the Great Depression in NYC, landlords were so desperate that they offered two and three months rent-free, upfront, and it was common for families to frequently move, gypsy-like, from apartment to apartment.

        Given the Internet and the power of the credit system, we probably won’t see that again, but don’t think a new variation isn’t possible. NYC, for one, is facing a perfect storm, in which almost every one of its attributes- high density, reliance on mass transit and the commercial real estate tax base, collapsing retail, hotel, restaurant and cultural industries, etc. – is a potential detriment/ threat to real estate valuations.

        I’m old enough to remember the Bad Old Days of the 1970’s when the city had over a million fewer people than now. It could happen again, sooner than people think, and that would create lot of “luxury” apartments to fill.

        • It’s obvious that corporate landlords have an edge on you. I would say no mass evictions, and expanding the definition of forBeaRRRRance. You will get your rent but it will be a Treasury Dept check.

        • Tony says:

          There are far more ‘homeless’ now than the 1970s. And, there is the political pressure to house them somehow. Maybe in “luxury” apartments? Hell, they’re putting them up in middle grade hotels in San Francisco at taxpayer expense. To and including drug and alcohol deliveries so the poor dears from Dearborn won’t suffer withdrawals. That kind of thing, plus the car break ins, the piles of human shit on sidewalks, the lack of police presence AND the viral economy, is why people are leaving S.F.

    • Kasadour says:

      In Oregon, the moratorium is on writs of execution, not on filing a forcible entry/detainer (FED) action against a tenant. The courts are still docketing first appearances and trials, but what good is an FED judgment if the county can’t issue a writ? Gov Brown of Oregon should have put the moratorium on filing instead of the writs because when it expires on Sept 30, the county is going to have to play catch-up with regard to these writs- and it could take a up to a year and that’s no exaggeration.

      • jmayer says:

        If your courts are anything like they are in Ohio, dockets are backed up for months. My April Jury trials were all pushed back to August.
        The normal process we go through in Ohio is a 3 day notice to vacate premises. If they dont leave, then you file an eviction action. There is no federal law involved and is all handled at the county or municipal level. I don’t handle these disputes so I am not sure of any state or local moratoriums on evictions.

        • Kasadour says:

          By FED I meant Forcible Entry Detainer. Sorry I should have clarified that.

          Oregon has some of the most technically confusing landlord tenant law in the country and to make matters worse, if a landlord screws it up, the tenant doesn’t just get to stay in the property until the landlord refiles the FED, but also he gets to collect three times rent in statutory punitive damages. Landlord tenant law is a cottage industry here. Non-attorneys can file, appear at first appearances, negotiate and sign agreements in agency of the property owner. You can imagine then that screw ups are open to anyone and everyone here. A squatters dream come true.

    • Rowen says:

      I read an article about how a local apartment complex was doing illegal evictions. Illegal in the sense that the apartment had a fannie mae mortgage. I knew Fannie did multi-family (quadplexes). Had no idea that they did $5M apartment and trailer park loans.

      I’ve been telling anyone i know who doesn’t care about their credit to ignore rent during the eviction moratorium. Use the cash for the next place, because apparently, there’s no morality in business, just profit maximization.

      • leanfire_Queen says:

        “I’ve been telling anyone i know who doesn’t care about their credit to ignore rent during the eviction moratorium. ”

        I agree. If mortgage debtors can stop paying for a year, why should renters pay during that period?

  8. Zantetsu says:

    South Bay rents appear to be going down as well. I am going to rent a townhouse (gave up on buying, can’t risk all of my assets just for the chance to own in the SF Bay Area) and prices appear to be 5% – 8% lower than they were last year for comparable 3 bedroom townhouses.

  9. RickV says:

    I lived in San Francisco from 1980 – 1989, a great city. For a couple of those years I had a 1 bedroom apartment on Sacramento St. a few blocks west of Fillmore. Second story with a bay window overlooking the street and including a covered parking space. All for $650/month. How thing change.

    • dasripper says:

      I wonder if we lived in the same building. Same street (Sacramento between Scott and Pierce) and had covered parking, although my wife and i were there from 2005 – 2013 so we had to pay $1500 a month and it never increased in the years we were there. As much as we wanted it to work out, our son eventually outgrew the walk in closet turned nursery so we had to set off for different pastures.

      I loved that location.

    • sierra7 says:

      Got u beat!
      1955, Daly City (immediately South SF):
      1 bdrm brand new, very quiet, covered parking: Ready?:
      $50 month (fifty dollars); very nice area…….
      New ’56 black chev conv. white top ($2500, cash); wages: $100 week….(small wholesale family produce business). With that money and the rent and everything else I still saved a good amount every month… credit cards!!
      Even after marriage few years later:
      Birth delivery in SF hospital; total Dr. and Hospital: $200…..
      “Things” really started to get pretty wild in the mid 1970’s and the ’80’s on…..
      Now the American Nightmare for too many working folk. That’s why US needs so many support programs….
      Workers have to learn to say NO to credit cards…….live within their means or out in the streets……..
      Just saying……

  10. Chris says:

    I manage residential units in San Francisco and it has been a busy few months. It’s interesting to see how rents are changing within the city.

    The larger units that I manage have not had any issues being rented at the same prices as last year (2-3 bedroom units in the Inner Sunset and Outer Sunset). About half of the smaller (studio to 1-bed) units have required some price drops to be filled (7-10% range).

    From my experience, many people are considering leaving SOMA and downtown neighborhoods to head to western neighborhoods which offer more space at a better price point without elevators, congestion, etc. Large building amenities can’t currently be used anyways.

    This seems to be reflected in SFH sale prices as well. I’m curious to see what things will look like when offices begin opening up.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Seems like people are still escaping to Oakland, if the rent increases in Oakland are any sign.

      • Clete says:

        No offense to Raider Nation, but any era in which people are escaping *to* Oakland is upside down or sideways or something.

      • vern says:

        I was going to comment on Oakland. I’ve rented 3 of my units during SIP, all for 5% more, to people moving from SF. I’m wondering if it’s the “suburbs affect” from the work from home shift. In Oakland you get a SFH instead of an apartment and as more people shift to work from home, the traffic issue won’t be as limiting getting to south bay (normally not within reason) if you only have to go in every other week.

        • blowout_bob says:

          I live 15 minutes east of Oakland and myself and some friends have been contacted by our RE agents to “make sure” we aren’t interested in selling our SFH right now. There definitely is pressure and things seem to be selling pretty fast out here.
          I’m not sure I would qualify 5-10% as “massive”. 6% on $3k is only $180. I don’t invest in RE aside from my own home so maybe that is a huge sum if you owned a large building. Detached units are probably making up that difference.

          Who the hell is paying 15% more to live in Indianapolis??

  11. Memento mori says:

    Managing many multifamily apartments in San Diego county and we are operating with no vacancy , still increasing the rents.
    Dont see any downward pressure on rents here.
    I thought the pandemic will destroy the industry but our collection rate is better than before the pandemic.
    Lots of new applicants whenever units become available and we are now systematically collecting last month of rent on top of security deposit as a precaution.
    Will see how it goes if the stimulus checks stop coming, but for now , what crisis?

  12. Paulo says:

    Vancouver BC 1 bedroom rents have declined .24 of 1%. Rental price is avg at $2,090 Canadian, which is $1500 US dollar value. Considering wages for working people are higher in BC, plus there is universal health care, it is still more affordable to live in this high priced city. In Victoria, with almost no vacancy, my nephew is chasing a place to rent and can’t find anything. Prices are around $1300 Cdn, but they go immediately.

    In my rural paradise my son is renting out his luxury man cave house on 3 acres, riverfront, for $1200 per month. He could have held of for $1350 but the renter is my friend and maintains everything. A trailer pad rental is $500 per month which is average for around here. Folks on limited incomes who did not prepare for retirement often live in RVs and RV type trailers for the $500/month site fee. Heat in winter is a killer as they’re poorly insulated.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      Try finding a 1 bedroom in a non-crime infested part of Paris, London, Berlin or Dublin for $1500. Ain’t happening my friend. For all the whining about high rents in N. America, they are a bargain compared to most of the developed world.

    • dr spock says:

      You forgot to add that your country is now a colony of China. Good luck!!!

  13. BuySome says:

    Wow, where did reality go? Unless some of those cities are shelling out minimum wages of $100 per hour, they’d better hope millions of workers don’t suddenly wake up to realize those rents are about ten times what they should be! Is this some kind of survey of palaces, or just the typical sh*tholes most renters have always faced. If this is what they believe can go on, I’d suggest buying armored Teslas before those barrels appear in the windows. Someone’s totally lost it in America.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      I lost my copy of the constitution. Can you look up for me which section guarantees everyone a nice cheap apartment in San Francisco? Thanks.

      • BuySome says:

        You’ve missed the point. The Constitution has several components to mitigate the protection of private interest and the abusive detriment to the public welfare. It was all public land to begin with, and it can be recovered. On top of that, most of what we permit is not protected but rather allowed to exist when it serves the public interest, and those permissions can be revoked or altered. But the point here is that the legislative process has failed those it represents…not just voters, everyone. And if these very large numbers of people suddenly get wise to this, all hell is quite possible to occur…don’t ignore the escape clause in those historic “guidelines” for how to manage a republic (the people, not the paper). You don’t have enough cops or soldiers to beat them down like Ford factory workers. Wise up, we’ve been on this road for some time and may be approaching the barricades.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Constitution is irrelevant and will soon be cancelled as most of the signatories were slave owners. Not politically acceptable.

    • RepubAnon says:

      It’s largely a matter of living within commute range of one’s job. There’s lots of high-paying work in the SF Bay Area, so the rents get bid up. Supply and demand is especially acute in SF, which is at the tip of a peninsula, with only BART, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge connecting SF to other areas.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Until “commute” becomes “work from home”… then the geographic pressure on local rents slumps.

    • jmayer says:

      For the past 10 years in Columbus, OH, there has been a boom in apartment construction. 100’s of complexes have sprung up over all of greater Columbus (Dublin, Hilliard, New Albany, Westerville, etc.) They all appear to be pretty nice albeit I have not been in one. I would wager to guess that they are much nicer than anything I would rented in early 2000’s.

    • sierra7 says:

      Solid evidence from SF:
      Grandaughter with two roommates live in one “flat” part of an old fashioned two “flat” vintage building behind Mission Dolores Park (a nice neighborhood); their rent for the made over (two story hence “two flats”) one bedroom living room, dining room, one bath, kitchen into three bedrooms, one bath, one kitchen: $4100 month rent controlled. All use public transportation which is a big savings.

  14. Fat Chewer. says:

    Insert sarcastic retort here.


  15. Anthony says:

    Living in a country that has always been property mad, I guess prices for rents (and sales) will start to change, in any large manner, once people fully realise that the economy they once had, has now gone. You could call it the Big Short moment. By the way, home prices have dropped,here in sunny England, for the first time since 2012…

    Saying that, we are probably going to get large numbers of Hong Kongers coming to live here, maybe they will start to zoom again…maybe….

  16. Endeavor says:

    In Detroit many live in abandon homes in various states of decay. A Canadian newspaper once did an article about it and found bustling neighborhoods during the day but complete darkness during the evening from no utility hookups. A few houses had water and acted as a community well. Detroit demolished tens of thousands of these homes but public outcry is stopping that program. In my opinion, Detroit is about 5 to 10 years ahead in the new normal.

    • MiTurn says:

      What you described sounds like a post-apocalyptic vision of the future. But look at that community spirit!

  17. A drink before the war says:

    I’m a small fish in the large rental market game here in the foothills of NC, about a 45 minutes to a hour and a half from Charlotte . We only buy 2 bed 1 bath homes for cash and fix them up a bit and rent them out….we also try and do a flip a year. Nothing decent stays on the market long. We sold a place that was a rental money maker in January with plans of buying two more properties, then the pandemic hit.
    As a 53 year old who’s primary income is from the rental income I try to avoid a lot of risk and like I stated before we only deal in cash, so as the market here keeps churning along I’m on the sidelines because I can’t understand the current confidence everyone else in the area has in the market. I am ready to invest more but I am taking a wait and see approach.
    I am so grateful for this site, all the numbers and explanations! Thank you Wolf and all the people who share information in the comments section.

    • Petunia says:

      Look for any town in your area where people from NYC and Philly are congregating and front run them. I know a steady stream of buyers from these northern areas have been quietly buying/moving for years now.

  18. Ethan in NoVA says:

    I lived in the Norfolk – Virginia Beach – Chesapeake area for years. Crap jobs, weak area. Good paying jobs are mostly government contracting gigs as always. Surprised to see it jump upwards in this mess.

    All these people crying for UBI don’t get it. The landlords/banks (mortgages) will just take it all.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      “All these people crying for UBI don’t get it. The landlords/banks (mortgages) will just take it all.’

      Yep. It’s basic economics. Give everyone $1000/mo, the cost of everything they buy with that $1000 will increase, in the aggregate by $1000. In the long run the recipients of the $1000 will be no better off. Same with the minimum wage. Make it $10, $15 or $1000 an hour and in the long run it doesn’t matter. Prices increase to absorb that hourly wage and everyone making min wage has the same relative purchase power as before. Try as you might, govt can’t create wealth.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        My UBI will be bigger than your UBI because I’m special.
        In other words, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    • Anthony A. says:

      Yeah, but with UBI, the people won’t have to work to pay the rent.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        But yes, they will. Unintended consequences.

        If you want affordable rents you need to build housing (or increase household sizes), or increase actual worker production – not print money.

        The illusion that anything is actually about money is part of the whole scam. That the “dollar” is worth something is merely a legalized consensual hallucination and nothing more.

        • Or decrease households/population. Or a combination of that and increase housing. Just sayin.

        • Kurtismayfield says:

          Worker productivity has been increasing the past 40 years, but their real wage has not budged.

          And the last time the Federal government invested in housing, it was a tad bit racist.

        • leanfire_Queen says:

          You guys don’t get that those asking for UBI will not work and instead relocate to the areas in the US where housing supply is higher than demand.

          There’s no need to stay put in an expensive city where you are living just for your job when you don’t need that job.

    • leanfire_Queen says:

      Not quite. People will relocate to the areas in the US where housing supply is higher than demand.

      There’s no need to stay put in an expensive city where you are living just for your job when you don’t need that job. At least a million already do the vandwelling lifestyle.

  19. A says:

    So basically rents have corrected 10-20% from their peak. Home prices tend to lag in their correction then overshoot into oversold territory.

    Looks to me like when this housing crash comes, it’s going to come hard.

    • NewGuy says:

      I’m sure a lot of landlords are fed up with this rent moratorium crap. They know they will never see the lost rental income. Expect a lot to throw in the towel and sell out soon.

    • Petunia says:

      I keep seeing more and more listings that are tenant occupied. What they don’t say is whether the tenant is paying or not. Hard to evict a non paying tenant right now, just about everywhere.

  20. Root Farmer says:

    Just received rent renewal notice from my PE-owned complex. 20% reduction if I am willing to sign for a year. Anything shorter and the rent goes up. 2 bdr, 2 bath unit approximately 900 sqft outside of Raleigh NC.

    Do the bulls on this site think they know that much more than the owners of my complex?

    Hang on, the ride has only just started!

    • leanfire_Queen says:

      LOVE IT!!! Even more so because of your nickname as farm life is in my future, as a remote worker I was able to exit NIMBY infested cities :-)

  21. Jdog says:

    I have had rentals most of my life, but sold out a couple of years ago. I sure would not want to be a landlord with all this going on now . Once you start telling people they do not have to pay their rent, it is going to be really difficult to get them to start paying again. People get used to free real fast.
    Then when you finally are able to evict them they will usually do tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the property. My guess would be a lot of landlords are going to get real tired of dealing with the hassles the government has created for them, and realize it is really not worth it. Especially when property prices start dropping as is going begin to happen in the not too distant future….

    • Ethan in NoVA says:

      They will all be sad they didn’t buy TSLA stock

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Sadly, the relatively-kindly solo landlords will give way to a corporate rental mafia with a legal goon squad sufficient to intimidate even the most damage-inflicting former tenants. Backed by the full robo-signing farce of the “justice” system.

    • leanfire_Queen says:

      > I have had rentals most of my life, but sold out a couple of years ago.

      As somebody who shorted the previous housing bubble better than the pros – except from the great Paolo PellegrinI – your timing was BEAUTIFUL!


  22. KurtZ says:

    Wow a landlord’s website. thank goodness you guys don’t have a platform, that your voices are never heard. Really an oppressed minority.

    As a life-long renter, here are my two cents.

    Without rent control, the bullshit landlords get away with….

    The first landlords we had, who wanted to raise the rent on us, I had to point out that the reason our daughter’s bedroom remained at ambient temperature, was because there was a HOLE in her floor where they hadn’t hooked up the furnace… they never asked to raise the rent again, nor did they ever hook up the furnace. He just put a two-by-four over it.

    Our recent landowners raised the rent twice in one year, the max they could, about 20% higher now, though the place is falling apart now. We have lived there for fifteen years and it really needs some upgrades.

    Like a New roof – after every storm I pick up shingles that are disintegrating.

    A New Fridge – The old one is almost 25 years old and probably costs us more per month to operate than a new one does in a year.

    Front door and front windows – Giant single-pane windows keep the living space at camping temps.

    Need I make a longer list of grievances.

    My wife keeps the place up like we own it. she pays on time every month, even they take their extended Euro holidays.

    All I am saying is you guys should be less aggrieved and more sympathetic to us renters.

    • SuzeB says:

      Well Kurtz, quite frankly it’s your darn fault that you’re not a landlord. You clearly didn’t work hard enough or you made “poor choices” (to quote Just One Random Guy…who incidentally sounds like the kind of guy you’d love to have a beer with!) Obviously, you’re not very real estate savvy. Real estate is where it’s at, man! I coulda twiddled my thumbs too but I didn’t! Why didn’t you get into the market 20, 30, 40 years ago? Don’t you know you’re “throwing your money away on rent” and you’re paying someone else’s mortgage? Don’t you want to feel the pride of homeownership? Don’t you want to build equity? Something is wrong here…try to keep up, dude!

      Gee whiz, if you were more like us, you’d be a lot better off. Incidentally, why aren’t you more like us? The world would be a lot better if you were! Musta been those “poor choices”, huh? Why isn’t everyone a savvy real estate investor or landlord? It’s a pretty awesome club to be in. You shoulda coulda woulda but you didn’t so….you lose!!

      Stop complaining, pull yourself by your bootstraps, buy some property already and jack up those rents! You can put your own 2 X 4’s over holes if you want cuz you own it! Then you can hang with us, polish your silver and gloat about your power and control over the hoi polloi! The great unwashed renters.

      I’ve been thinking….it seems that these renters should have to wear a scarlet letter “R” so they can be more easily identified, shamed and mocked. Ya know, life is short and it’s kinda fun to feel superior to these lowly loser renters! You get to brag about your properties to your old high school friends and “one up” those who haven’t kept up. Try it, you might like it!

      Oops, oh dear….I forgot – I’m also a lowly renter! I made “poor choices”. Yikes, I better get crackin’!

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Can you explain the “We have lived there for fifteen years” part? Why wouldn’t you fire your landlord in a situation like that? You’re the customer and that makes you the boss, doesn’t it?

    • Good thing SF has rent control! And NYC. And… lots of the cities on the list here. Hm.

  23. San Diego seems to be taking this better than SF. 10 on most expensive and not on the June drop list at all. I live here and don’t know have a clue. Voters reject every new housing project, and Sandag opposes freeway lane expansion. The huge cross cultural energy is at multi decade lows in terms of neglect. No new airport. Clearly we are not LA.

  24. Bob says:

    So what happens when the landlords finally get thoroughly pissed off at the government for how we’ve been treated? Can’t pay your rent, no problem, we’ll make it illegal to evict you. And Mr. Landlord, you can go ahead and refinance to cover your losses. Nobody’s going after Vons to give free food or Shell to give free gas, or utilities for free electricity and water. There’s going to be interesting things happening when landlords all decide that they can’t rent to folks who show any risk of not being able to pay rent. San Diego has fared much better than the rest of the state with housing values and rents but at some point all of this government intrusion will change the way everything housing works anymore.

    • Memento mori says:

      I think what all this government intervention do is reduce the availability of rentals even more and make it harder and more expensive to rent.
      We are already asking for last month of rent on top of the security deposit and I wont be surprised if we get a situation where the tenant would have to pay all the lease value in advance or provide some form worthy collateral.
      Nothing works like free market for both tenant and landlord but times are changing, who needs the free market when government can dictate evth and who needs to work for that matter when government can just print money and send checks, we will see how this ends.

  25. SocalJim says:

    While I only own single family rentals in very high end and very close in suburban zip codes, I am seeing rents skyrocket north of 20%. Crazy jumps … I think this is from the so called “peaceful riots” and COVID. This might be temporary. We will see.

  26. Lisa_Hooker says:

    I occupy a property that I rent from the Township paying the rent twice a year. I have a title to it but that title is encumbered by a bank. Tthe bank holds me responsible for maintenance and special assessments by the Township. Your definition of “home ownership” might differ. I could write a check in full to the bank but why lock-up liquid funds when long term interest rates are at 3%?

  27. kurtismayfield says:

    Once all the colleges in Boston go distance learning, I would love to see these numbers. Most of the students will be staying home and the rental market should take a dive.

  28. Oilman2 says:

    I rent 3 room (bed/bath/other) in a rural part of Texas. My rent averages $500/mn, and includes water/sewer/electric, all delivered by my infrastructure. Nearest towns are 15-30 min travel time. My take home is around $300/mn from each unit. I started with 2, and could easily grow past the five units I have now.

    This pays off the entire investment for my 160 acre spread, without even tapping into the income from hay and other farming activities.

    Easy market, because the expectations are low for rental property out here yet the demand seems to never waiver, at least not in the last ten years. There is ZERO construction of new complexes in smaller towns, so these units do not sit still either.

    My neighbor recently put 2 units on his place, and they were occupied before the plumbing was hooked up.

    I’m approaching 70, and recently had a potential renter ask me about working for his rent – and I am thinking I may just take the young man up on that, since there is no financing mess with these small units and my bones are needing more rest…

    So please – by all means, you guys stay in suburbia and urbia…

  29. c smith says:

    “followed by Syracuse, NY, a college town now under siege from the Pandemic.”

    Because of the timing of COVID (March onset) landlords in college towns won’t feel the pain until fall of 2021, if at all. In most of these towns, students are forced to sign leases as much as a year ahead due to supply/demand dynamics.

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