Rents in pricy U.S. cities are falling amid the coronavirus pandemic, and San Francisco in particular has just seen a historic drop, according to a new report from rental company Zumper.

Released Monday, the report shows that rents for a one-bedroom unit in San Francisco are now down 9.2 percent year-over-year. The report describes San Francisco as the most expensive city for rent in the entire U.S., but says the recent price drop represents “the largest decline ever and the lowest price point it’s been in over 3 years.”

Additionally, the report shows that in May rent for a one-bedroom apartment dropped 1 percent in New York City, 2 percent in Boston and 0.4 percent in San Jose, California.

Average rents for larger apartments in San Francisco and New York also fell last month, though they ticked up slightly in Boston and San Jose. Rents also saw notable drops in Salt Lake City, Utah, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Fresno, California, and Anchorage, Alaska.

“Overall, the national one-bedroom rent dropped 0.2 percent last month to $1,217, while two-bedrooms were flat at $1,473,” the report adds. “On a year-to-date basis, both one and two bedroom rents are down 0.5 percent.”

Despite the generally falling prices in some of the country’s most expensive cities, rent actually went up in a handful of markets including Providence, Rhode Island, Baltimore, Maryland, and Spokane, Washington.

Zumper, which operates a search portal as well as a platform meant to streamline the rental process, compiled the report by analyzing more than 1 million active rental listings.

Monday’s report comes amid a widespread reshuffling of the housing market during the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the pandemic has interrupted rent and mortgage payments, sent unemployment skyrocketing and may fuel an interest in more remote housing options.

The report also confirms earlier findings that rent growth is slowing amid the economic turmoil.

For its part, Zumper said in its report that the pandemic “has shifted the demand for apartments away from the most expensive cities, since usually demand picks up as we head into summer but now the opposite is true.”

“As more and more companies move into remote work,” the report adds, “many renters don’t want to pay the big city price tag when they are unable to use the amenities and are looking for more affordable options outside of large, metropolitan areas.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

coronavirus | rentals
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