Looking to lease housing in San Francisco? Expert says lock in rents now

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The return of city employees this week in San Francisco could have an immediate impact on rents in the city.

Rents dropped 12% year over year during the summer of 2020 as workers no longer chained to the office fled their highrises in Downtown San Francisco. If you're one of those who left, but might be thinking of returning, now may be the time to do it.

Carl Ek is one of those workers who left the city and even the state.

He lived in a San Francisco penthouse, but left to move to Detroit and eventually to his home country of Canada.

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"I was always drawn to live in that city but when the pandemic hit, a lot of things were taken away," he said.

Carl is now working remotely for a company based in San Francisco.

He says if his boss made him return, he wouldn't hesitate to do it because leaving wasn't easy.

"When you see it in your rearview mirror, you realize and it's getting smaller and smaller, 'oh, man, did I do the right thing? No,' and you keep driving on," said Carl.

Brian Carberry monitors rents as editor of Rent.com.

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He says if you're planning to return to the city, you should lock in a long-term lease now.

"Save some money in the long haul, and really get something that's more affordable compared to waiting three months from now when prices might be up $5-600 in certain areas," the Rent.Com editor said.

He says a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is going to cost about $3300, up 14% from the same time last year.

Still that's slightly cheaper than Oakland.

"At least for right now, you got value in San Francisco where as in Oakland, you're going to spend and pay a lot more."

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Carberry doesn't expect that to last very long.

"Reallly now is the time to act. If you wait even a month, you could see those prices go up several hundred dollars in certain neighborhoods," said Carberry.

He adds that the cheapest big city Bay Area rents right now are in San Jose where rents are about $1,000 cheaper than San Francisco and Oakland.

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