San Francisco HUD FMR history since 2000

At the bottom of this post is a list of HUD “Fair Market Rents” (FMRs) for two-bedroom apartments in a three-county region centered on San Francisco for the years 2000 through 2014. Provided as a public service because I was having trouble finding an online chart of San Francisco rent rates over the past ten years.

I still can’t find a chart of San Francisco apartment asking prices year over year, so if anyone knows of one could you kindly provide a link? Not wanted for any specific project, so please don’t anyone put yourself out, but it sure would be great to have as a reference.

[UPDATE late Oct. 14, 2013: Here’s a chart of average rental rates, presumably at or near market rate, for 2000-2013 from Trends are slightly different for 1BR and 2BR units. Average SF city rents range from just under $1600 for a 1BR at the lowest (surprisingly to me, that’s shown as being in 2004) and leaping to over $3000 for a 2BR as of 2012. Which, if you compare it with the list at the bottom of this post, goes to show why tenants with Section 8 vouchers have such a terribly difficult time finding a San Francisco landlord willing to accept Section 8 compensation at FMR rates. Also, last month CurbedSF reported figures from the Zumper service showing average San Francisco rents of $2713 for a 1BR and $4075 (!!) for a 2BR.]

FMRs are a problematic measure of actual San Francisco rents for a ton of reasons, including that the San Francisco FMR area includes San Mateo and Marin Counties and that there have been bureaucratic changes over the years in the formulas used. For example, the drop from 2004 to 2005 seems to have been a result of “rebenchmarking” rather than actual economic change. Also, the FMR is based in large part on actual rents people are paying, which because of San Francisco rent control is hugely different from current asking rents for new tenancies.

[Added 2/14/14: See my rent chart page for notes from Daniel Pelletiere saying FMRs are not, however, an average of current rents.]

But I was looking for at least some quick measure of rent changes year by year, and the list below is better than nothing.

See, this morning on Twitter I got in one of these inconclusive San Francisco arguments about whether massive market-rate apartment construction would reduce San Francisco rents. Most of the thread is here.

It started with an Atlantic Cities op-ed in which SPUR director Gabriel Metcalf argued San Francisco needs a program of 5000 new units per year. To which I retorted basically that all units aren’t alike and the ravenous high-end demand for San Francisco apartments doesn’t look satiable enough to leave enough affordable units for everyone else. Which, I ended up admitting, is pretty fatalistic although reality-based.

So the smart woman who posts as @EC wrote this:

— EC (@EC) October 14, 2013

And I wanted to answer her by looking at the trend in rents as opposed to house prices in the San Francisco area for that 2008-2009 post-bubble period. And I thought that would be easy to find with a simple Google search, and, weirdly, it wasn’t easy at all.

So as a partial and inadequate substitute, here’s a list of year-by-year San Francisco FMRs since 2000 as scraped from the HUD data portal. For what it’s worth, it shows no rent rate decrease across the years 2008 and 2009, but I kind of doubt that settles the question.

HUD “Fair Market Rents”,
San Francisco Metro FMR Area (SF, Marin, San Mateo Counties)

All compressed links below are to HUD FMR database subpages for the San Francisco metro area.

2014 FMR two-bedroom: $1,956
Source: (Search for San Francisco FMR in drop-down menu)

2013 FMR two-bedroom: $1,795

2012 FMR two-bedroom:  $1,905

2011 FMR two-bedroom: $1,833

2010 FMR two-bedroom: $1,760

2009 FMR two-bedroom:  $1,658

2008 FMR two-bedroom: $1,592

2007 FMR two-bedroom:  $1,551

2006 FMR two-bedroom: $1,536

2005 FMR two-bedroom: $1,539

2004 FMR two-bedroom: $1,775

2003 FMR two-bedroom: $1,940

2002 FMR two-bedroom: $1,747

2001 FMR two-bedroom: $1,459

2000 FMR two-bedroom: $1,362


5 thoughts on “San Francisco HUD FMR history since 2000

  1. tobymarx

    Left out of the discussion is that far more low-income units in San Francisco have been lost over the past 30-40 years than the combined total of all such units currently built, planned, or in the works.

  2. Mark Hogan

    Nice post, but I don’t think that the data is very definitive because the sample size is too small- only 3 people responded to the survey of 2-bedroom prices in 2011! I found this post about the post dot-com decrease in prices online but finding the raw data proves to be very difficult if you don’t subscribe to a service like RealFacts:

    1. Martha Bridegam Post author

      Good point. Thanks for that surprising link about SF rents falling in 2003. Those were the days.

      Yes, I’m surprised how little there is online tracking SF rents over time.

  3. Pingback: OK, here’s a chart of San Francisco rent rate estimates. | Unquiet Titles

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