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SF Renters Regain Something They Lost: Leverage

Vacancies are up, so they have more choice and a bit of negotiating power
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2020 10:40 AM CST

(Newser) – The median price of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco last month was $2,800. That's encouraging news, or so explains the Chronicle, which cites data from Apartment List and Zumper. The pandemic has caused many residents of the city to depart, and that's bringing the sky-high rents down somewhat—a 20.7% year-over-year decrease in the median 1-bedroom rent price as of October, which is down 1.1% from September—and giving back renters a bit of the power they had long ago lost. That's because with apartment vacancy rates up more than 100% over last year, renters have the opportunity to negotiate with landlords, who are trying to fill more units than usual.

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Zumper notes that San Francisco's 20.7% drop is the biggest seen among the 100 cities it tracks, and that $2,800 median is still the priciest in the country. (New York is next on the list, at $2,550.) How long will the situation last in SF? One researcher with Apartment List suggests at least into the spring, though the Chronicle separately notes rates may not plummet any further, with the 1.1% October-over-September decrease being the smallest since April. The paper does insert one asterisk, pointing out that Apartment List's data of available units generally "skew toward newer multi-family rentals, so more affordable housing and older or single-family homes may not be as significantly represented in this data." (Read more San Francisco stories.)

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