Silicon Valley’s Apartment Rental Market
Whether you’re a long-term renter, temporary renter looking for a furnished rental, or a landlord, you’re probably wondering how the Silicon Valley’s apartment rental market is today and where it’s heading. Most real estate agents in this area do not deal with rentals, so rental housing is not typically something we track super closely. That being said, the same things that affect the residential resale market frequently effect the apartment rental market as well. So, without the help from my usual sources, such as the MLS (Multiple Listing Services), let’s look at what people are saying about the current trends.
Silicon Valley’s apartment rental market in the news
This February, bizjournals.com published three helpful articles, all written by Janice Bitters on the Silicon Valley’s apartment rental market. In these, she provides insight to investors with predictions for the market with some reflection on current and past trends. What to these articles express? That there has been high demand and rising rents for years, similar to the housing market. What she gleans from industry trends is that builders and landlords have been working very hard to fulfill the demand for luxury apartments, and that new developments in the high-end sector have begun to meet demand. With demand in the higher price point diminishing, she says, builders and landlords no longer have the same incentive to create rentals in this sector, and investors do not want to pursue the mid- to low-end rental market. Despite there still being a clear demand in lower-cost apartments, developers are unlikely to pursue that sector right now due to the high cost of land and construction.
To attract renters to the luxury units, landlords are offering concessions such as free month to rent. This suggests that, in the higher price point of the rental market, it’s cooled down and has swung towards the favor of renters after being hot for a long time. In housing terms, we would call this a shift from a seller’s market (the market is in the seller’s favor) to a buyer’s market (the market is in the buyer’s favor). It’s true that with residential home sales, it’s also cooler in the luxury tier (over $3 million) than more moderately priced homes for sale. Here are the articles where you can learn much more about the rental market:
(Check out the graph in this last article!)
Unfortunately, after a cool and wet winter market, rent growth rates exceeded last year this summer, making it a continued, hot market for landlords. According to Apartment List (an excellent resource for tracking the rental market by city), San Jose rent is up 2% from last year and up 0.5% from last month, with the median rent for a one bedroom at $2,060, and at $2,580 for a two bed unit. Comparatively, Apartment List states that San Francisco is the highest cost California city for rentals with the median price for a two bedroom at $3,060, which has remained stable since last year. They also compare the median two bed rental across other major cities in the lower 48 states, which show that San Jose in both growth and median price is higher than New York city. Needless to say, on their Renter Confidence Survey, San Jose rated F for Affordability (meanwhile garnering and A and an A- in jobs and weather respectively).
Sunnyvale rentals, like the purchase market, is higher than San Jose by a few hundred dollars (Apartment List states the medians as $2,230 for 1 bed and $2,800 for a two bed unit), and are up 3.1% since last year. A Santa Clara apartment will cost you more than San Jose (the whole city, there are higher and lower rent areas), but less than Sunnyvale. Campbell may be your best bet for a reasonable rent, decreasing 1.3% since last year, and the only one with a median rent under $2,000. Mountain View has seen huge yearly rent growth at a current 4.9%. Compare that to the national average of 2.9% and the California average of 4.2%. Despite the yearly growth, rentals are slightly more affordable here than in Santa Clara (the median is only about $30 less).
Apartment List does not analyze every city and town, nor do they study the difference between neighborhoods, such as comparing South San Jose with Willow Glen, but where they do give insight helps to show the major trends happening around the bay area. Check out Apartment List for more detailed analysis, and the most up-to-date information on the market. Also check out their Rentonomics page with more articles on renting.
Is there a solution to the lack of low-cost apartment rentals?
Analysts all believe there will be some market turnaround in the not too far future, but there are a few answers to where it may come from. CNBC published an article on the housing shortage dealing with high tech companies. Large industry leaders such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter continue to hire, bringing people into the area more quickly than developers are building, and forcing up the prices in both housing and rental markets. Employees have asked these companies to help, and some are responding. Google and Facebook have both come up with plans to construct affordable housing.
For years, California law has stated that a certain amount of affordable housing must be available in each community. Unfortunately, many communities are ignoring both the law and the need for such developments. If every community were to develop what the law required, the market would be much more balanced. Yet again, it’s the investors that are controlling the development, and it will not likely happen soon.