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COVID Housing: Bay Area Rents On The Rise Again After Year Of Pandemic Declines

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – After more than a year of rent declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of renting is once again on the rise in the Bay Area, according to a new report.

An analysis from real estate website Zumper found the median 1-bedroom rent in San Francisco rose 1.9% in May to $2,650 a month, which remains the highest in the country. In Oakland, 1-bedroom rent has risen 1.5% to $1,980 a month.

Meanwhile, San Jose had one of the highest month-over-month jumps in median rent for a 1-bedroom in the nation, up 6.6% to $2,180 / month.

For 2-bedroom apartments, median rent in San Francisco is up 2.9% to $3,600 a month, while in San Jose the median has risen 1.5% to $2,700 / month. The median rent for a 2-bedroom in Oakland stayed flat at $2,500 / month.

Zumper said the rise in people being vaccinated against COVID-19, the ongoing reopening of the economy and the return of workers back to offices are helping drive up rents once again. The company said rents could face more upward pressures due to seasonal events such as college students returning to campuses or recent grads moving for work.

"As COVID restrictions have been lifted, Bay Area markets have stabilized in 2021 after being in free fall for much of 2020," the company said in a statement.

While rents are on the rise, they remain well off their peaks before the pandemic struck in early 2020. Compared to a year ago, one bedrooms in San Francisco are down 21.1%, Oakland is down 15.7% and San Jose is down 9.9%.

Zumper said it remains an "open question" if rents will return to such highs, with tech companies likely switching to hybrid or permanent work-from-home policies as offices reopen.

The rise in rents comes as the market for houses in the Bay Area and nationally heats up. Prices are rising at the fastest monthly pace in more than seven years, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the median home price of a single family home in the state soared past the $800,000 mark in April. Home prices in most of the Bay Area are much higher, with median prices above $1 million in Alameda, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, and above $2 million in San Mateo County.

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