Analysts predict new trends in Bay Area rental market for 2021 as landlords struggle

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Real estate agent Eli Meyskins with AMSI, says now might be the best time to rent in San Francisco.

One of his listings is one bedroom apartment with a remodeled kitchen and bathroom in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood. It rents for $2,000 a month. That's 25 percent less than last year. And, the first month is free. He has two units available in the eight-unit building on Washington Street.

"(They are) 600-650 square feet. Nice, classic San Francisco apartments. In any other given time, they would have been rented immediately," says Meyskens.

Crystal Chen is an analyst with the rental website Zumper. She says 2020 was a year of unprecedented decline in rents for the Bay Area.

RELATED: San Francisco rent prices down 31% as residents leave for more space, cheaper housing amid pandemic

According to Zumper, San Francisco had the biggest drop for a one bedroom apartment in the entire country. Rents are down 23 percent. Oakland is down 19 percent and 15 percent in San Jose.

"Priorities of renters really shifted away from big city amenities, like night life and going out, and towards space and affordability," explains Chen.

But many predict, renters will start to return to the Bay Area in 2021, especially in cities like San Francisco. Lower rent means those who were priced out before, can afford to move back.

"I have spent the last 10 years having people move from (San Francisco) to Oakland. And just in the last eight months, people are moving from Oakland back to San Francisco. It's a shift," says Meyskens.

Chen expects an even bigger shift come this summer, once more people get vaccinated and life starts to get back to "normal."

RELATED: San Francisco sees record-breaking drop in rent prices amid pandemic, according to Zumper data
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This is the largest year-over-year drop in the price of rent the city has ever seen, according to data collected by apartment rental site Zumper.

"I definitely think there will be people moving back to the city, I don't think it will be nearly as expensive and crazy as before the pandemic," says Chen.

On the flip side are current landlords.

The drop in rent prices and with the still large number of vacancies, many are struggling.

RELATED: How is COVID-19 impacting Bay Area housing? Expert weighs in
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The coronavirus has upended every part of our lives, including where we live. Some people are leaving cities for other parts of the state, others are moving back home to live with their parents, and others are finding life in an RV is the way to go.

The Bay Area Homeowners Network, or BAHN, held a small car rally through San Francisco's Chinatown to protest California's eviction moratorium.

Jenny Zhao owns a few condos in the South Bay. She her husband lost his job due to the pandemic. With renters behind on payments, she says her family is suffering.

"We have to pay mortgage, we have maintain, do repairs for the buildings. So, how do we survive?" says Zhao.

She says she understands the plight of many renters given the pandemic, but says there needs to be more equity around legislation.

Despite the difficulties on both sides, Meyskens remains optimistic.

"I think (San Francisco) is going to better in the long run after all this, because it needed a recalibration. For everybody, in the long run, I think it'll be good," he says.


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