San Francisco

Bay Area Rental Costs Dip for First Time in 7 Years: Zillow

It's the Bay Area's universal problem -- the price of housing.

But now, a Zillow study says that for the first time in seven years, rents have actually dropped.

The study found from last September -- to this September -- rents have decreased. That's a glimmer of good news in a place where many spend about 40 percent of their income on housing.

So what's behind the drop? It appears a building boom may finally be paying some dividends.

In the Bay Area housing landscape, the grass could always be a little greener, with the average rent around $3,400 a month -- $4,400 in San Francisco.

"It prices a lot of people out of the city and I'm not sure that that's entirely fair," said John Savariar, who moved to San Francisco a year ago.

For those swinging with the ups and downs, hanging by a thread, there's finally some good news.

"So rent prices in the Bay Area, and nationally, are kind of leveling off," said Sarah Mikhitarian, Zillow senior economist.

Zillow's report shows rents in the Bay Area are sinking, even if it's by less than 1 percent.

"It's not a big drop. It's not going to put a lot of extra cash into renter's pockets, but certainly I think the trajectory is good for those who feel like they may be getting priced out of the Bay Area," said Ralph McLaughlin, Veritas Urbis Economics.

Maybe most surprisingly, housing experts like McLaughlin said it's not mass migration of people fleeing the Bay Area pushing down prices. But rather new construction coming to market.

McLaughlin said it is multi-family housing, which tend to be rentals popping up the most. San Francisco has built more of that in the last two or three years than at any point on record.

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