But new data from online real estate marketplace Zumper tells an altogether different story.
Zumper compared median prices for 1-bedroom apartments from hundreds of listings posted on their site during the month of January. They then calculated the change from January 2013 to January 2014. What they found was that while some neighborhoods certainly did see an increase in rents year-over-year, rents in other neighborhoods stayed the same or even decreased significantly.
Instead of taking information from Craigslist or other boards, Zumper's platform allows realtors to post their listings directly to their site. According to Zumper Co-founder and COO Taylor Glass-Moore, this means that listings are more accurate, and there's no duplicate information.
Glass-Moore says that one reason for the frenzy surrounding San Francisco rent is that the media tends to focus on certain neighborhoods that have historically been popular with residents, including techies.
"A lot of the focus is on overall prices and trying to identify unit types where there's been the most appreciation to have a number that is really dramatic," Glass-Moore said to Business Insider. "Multiple factors are causing the changes, but only one is being discussed."
The tech sector has largely been blamed for causing rents to rise and longtime residents to be evicted from their homes, but that's only one part of the problem, according to Glass-Moore.
"Yes, tech is driving demand and prices for apartments, but only in specific neighborhoods," he said. "A lot of focus is placed on SOMA or the Mission where a lot of tech workers have moved, but that's not representative of the city as a whole. There are plenty of neighborhoods where people aren't wearing Google Glass and jumping into a Google shuttle."
Other factors contributing to high rents include rising construction of luxury condos , increase in short-term rentals (which tend to be more expensive than long-term), and rent-controlled housing . Most units in San Francisco are protected under rent control, but that locks up housing supply, according to Glass-Moore.
Though rents in San Francisco were up 2.74% as a whole over the last year, Downtown and the Financial District were two neighborhoods that saw a decrease of up to 10% in rent prices. Sunset is another desirable neighborhood with relatively reasonable rent.
He also emphasized that high rents in San Francisco are nothing new.
"Rentals were expensive in San Francisco last year as well, so it's not like they were cheap last year and now they're much more expensive," Glass-Moore said. "The message that I think should be made clear is that San Francisco is still an affordable city to live in if you're open to other neighborhoods."
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