Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: Renting In the Richmond Costs Nearly $4,000/month

San Francisco is a renter’s city–has been since 1849.

The Richmond is no exception: Per Planning Department estimates, as many as 68 percent of Inner Richmond homes are renter occupied, and for the Outer Richmond it’s as much as 61 percent.

So when we talk about things like the price of buying a home in the neighborhood (as we often do), we’re really only addressing a fraction of the people who actually live here. How exactly does the other half–or the other 60 percent, as it were–live these days?

The thing you’ve got to realize about estimated median rents in a place like San Francisco is that the numbers that get reported in headlines–$2,000/month, $3,000/month, etc–are always wrong.

Or rather, they’re only CONTEXTUALLY correct: Those figures represent the median market rents, an indicator of what it would cost to rent a home if you were shopping for one right now.

Most in in SF pays a much, much lower monthly price, thanks to considerations like rent control or old lease deals that predate the craziness of the last decade. (See here for more details.)

But of course, that lower monthly rent average is mere trivia if you happen to be shopping for an apartment right now. So in truth, there’s no such thing as a “real” monthly rent figure, only one that’s (possibly) conditionally relevant.

Now that we’ve covered our rear yards as well as we can, let’s get down to business.

As always, our data comes from the Multiple Listing Service, the realtor’s database through which (almost) every publicly listed home in San Francisco filters.

Far, far fewer people list rentals on MLS than sales, so our sample size here is not that great–presently, only 17 rental deals in the Richmond are available, ranging from studios up to five bedrooms, and some of those spill over into nearby areas like Jordan Park.

Nevertheless, the data we’ve got is the data we’ve got: Right now, a median Richmond rental is a two bed, two bath setup with about 1,000 square feet of livable space.

And the median price for that? Hope you’re sitting down: $3,875.

But that number really shouldn’t surprise us: According to sources like ApartmentList and Zumper (both based in SF), median market prices for two-bedroom rentals in SF rose as high as $4,500 on average some months already this year.

Well okay, what about a larger sample? For all of 2021, renters signed 93 residential lease signings in and around the Richmond–still not a huge number, but big enough to give us a little bit more confidence.

Out of those homes, the median unit was two beds, one bath and about 950 square feet. And the median price? All of $3,375 per month.

San Francisco is a renter’s city, and the Richmond is a renter’s neighborhood–but that doesn’t mean either of them are gentle on the renting class.

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