List Yourself


The State of the Rental Market

Purchase prices for a home in San Francisco remain out of reach for most about two-thirds of the households in San Francisco rent. Still, the Bay Area's healthy job market has kept the for-sale housing market hot with low inventory generating multiple offers. Demand for rentals remains high and San Francisco continues to be a "landlord's market". Rents have increased an average of 10.6% over the year prior (three times the national average). Rental properties currently under construction in San Francisco are upper-end and will command high rents.

How Did Rentals Become So Expensive in the Bay Area?

When it comes to the San Francisco rental market the simple law of supply and demand applies - San Francisco is a small and highly desirable place to live where many qualified people compete for few units.

Most new construction has been in the area of luxury condos. Though some relief has come in this form of new apartment construction, prices will remain higher than the rest of the nation. Websites like Airnnb have also created a new trend towards more short-term rentals.

Housing got tight toward the end of the decade when a booming local economy lured a flood of newcomers to the Bay Area, straining the already scarce supply of rental housing. Though some people left the Bay Area after the "bust", tech came roaring back again with San Francisco at the epicenter. The addition of tech commuter shuttles ("Google buses") from San Francisco to Silicon Valley has made living in the City even more desirable.

What Should I Expect to Pay for a Rental?

District 1 Bedroom
Castro / Eureka Valley
Civic Center / Cathedral Hill
Downtown / Union Square
Marina District
Mission District / Outer Mission
Nob Hill
Noe Valley
Pacific Heights
Potrero Hill
Richmond District
Sunset District
*Last Updated 1/1/2014

How Much of Your Paycheck Goes to Rent?

The latest statistics show that nearly a quarter of renters spend more than 50% of their income on rent. The recommended ratio is 25-30%. Most landlords require a household income of three times the monthly rent.

What is the Best Way to Secure a Rental? is a great place to start. Remember - landlords want a qualified tenant but there are plenty out there. Here are some helpful hints, based on our 25+ years of experience working with landlords, that will prepare you to stand out as a star candidate: at will prepare you to stand out as a star candidate:

  • Check for new listings on a daily basis. If a listing meets your criteria, call immediately. Remember, it is time consuming for a landlord to show an apartment (not to mention that they are losing rent for every day the unit sits vacant) so they want to fill a unit quickly. Be first in line for a showing- the early bird gets the apartment!
  • When leaving a recorded phone message for a landlord, speak clearly and slowly. In order for a landlord to return your call he / she must understand your phone number. Don't just rely on leaving a message - call back and try to get a live person!
  • Be persistent and aggressive without being annoying. Follow up on your showing. Ask the landlord when he / she will be making a decision, if he / she needs any additional information or a deposit. Bring your checkbook! Prospective renters who leave a deposit with their application are one step ahead of the game! Be so bold as to ask for the apartment- i.e. close the deal!
  • Make a great first impression. Treat your apartment search as you would a job search- be courteous and professional.
  • Know what you will qualify for based on your income (see note above). Don't waste your time (or a landlord's) on units that are out of your price range. While you can try to negotiate down a rental price, you should be reasonable - landlords know what their properties are worth and aren't likely to drastically revise their asking price. Set your sights on a unit that is within your budget.
  • Make the landlord's job easy. Go to your interview / rental showing prepared - fill out and print our online application and get a copy of your credit report.
  • Get to know the area - where you do and don't want to live - but be open-minded to all your options. We'd all like a cute one bedroom with hardwood floors and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you need a rental now you can't be too picky.
  • If you have a pet, write a "pet resume" and attach it to your application. Only 28% of landlords say they take dogs, 40% take cats. Be prepared to pay extra deposits and possibly more rent per month to have a pet.
  • Dress for success. Your personal appearance is a reflection on how well you will maintain a landlord's property.
  • Make a list of the amenities that you must have (parking, elevator, etc.), keep it short to have as many units to choose from as possible. Save time by asking "qualifying" questions over the phone (i.e. Does the rental meet my most basic criteria?).
  • Alert your references that they might be contacted.
  • Do a complete walkthrough on any unit you're serious about, and ask about repairs now. Use our rental checklist to inspect your future rental unit. Make your showing productive. Will things fit? Measure your furnishings and take along a tape measure to the units you are considering.
  • Comparison shop, check out lots of places to see what your budget will get you. But again, don't be too picky or wait too long to accept a unit if it is offered to you.

This Year's Allowable Rent Increase Amount

Effective March 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015 the allowable annual increase amount is 1.0%. This amount is based on 60% of the increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Bay Area, which was 1.6% as posted in November 2013 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.