The Bay Area is the last place in the U.S. with rental prices below pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from Apartment List. That seems like a rosy headline — for us renters at least — but the question remains how long the “depressed” prices will last.

New data estimates rents in the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley area are still down 3.3% compared with March 2020 and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area is down 1.3%. Meanwhile, nationwide rental prices have climbed more than 16% in just the past year, with big cities in Florida such as Miami climbing 34% since the month the pandemic shut down much of the U.S.

In a separate report, Apartment List put median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco at $2,390 in April — a mere 0.7% month-over-month increase, but a 12.1% increase year-over-year. 

Experts predict there are a number of factors affecting these still-shrunken prices, one of which being that the Bay Area has one of the most remote-friendly workforces. Tech companies led the way at adopting work from home amid the pandemic and many are continuing to allow flexible or permanent work-from-home options. 

San Francisco doesn’t dominate the highest of those one-bedroom median numbers in the region though, according to Apartment List. San Mateo rents are about 1% higher, with a median one-bedroom running at $2,440. Fremont, Union City and Dublin also all have higher one-bedroom median rental prices.

Zumper, another apartment rental marketplace, conversely still has rents in San Francisco as the highest in the area. Median one-bedroom rent was $2,900 in April, according to their most recent report, far above San Mateo’s $2,510 median one-bedroom rent. 

Notably, rents are still far below New York City averages, Zumper reports, which took the top spot in the nation yet again at $3,420 for a one-bedroom apartment. 

Oakland prices grew even more modestly in April, with a minor 0.3% month-over-month growth and only a 5.3% year-over-year growth. It’s still one of the least expensive cities in the San Francisco metro area, with a one-bedroom median of $1,660.

While prices in the Bay Area seem “discounted,” Apartment List senior economist Chris Salviati said they aren’t likely to stay that way for long. Still, the Bay Area is consistently trailing the national average, and Salviati attributes much of that to the region’s lack of affordability before the pandemic began.

“San Francisco is still the nation’s most expensive market,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a discount but this is far from enough of a reset to make San Francisco an affordable market by any stretch of the imagination.”

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