OK, here’s a chart of San Francisco rent rate estimates.

[Update: here’s a direct link to the chart if you want to skip the explanation.]

Everybody knows San Francisco rents are rising — right? So, OK, then, how high are they now, when did they start climbing so fiercely, and how much have they risen per year?

I thought it would be easy to answer those questions until I tried to make a point about them in an argument on Twitter. Then, in looking for statistics, I found to my surprise that we have a shortage of reliable, publicly posted figures organized to show year-over-year increases in San Francisco citywide average rents.

My easy, incomplete first step was to scrape and post HUD’s problematically low “Fair Market Rent” estimates for the San Francisco area, which includes Marin and San Mateo Counties. Then I found a 2000-2013 chart from a private source, apartmentratings.com — but Mark Hogan, who I was arguing with when this started, noted fairly enough that the sample sizes for that chart are awfully small.

So I put together a more serious attempt at charting a lot of different Web sites’ answers. I’ll be maintaining it for some time to come on my weblog. At this link, also permanently linked above at “SF Rent History Chart,” is a table containing claims about San Francisco citywide average rents. Many of the sources linked here also give figures by neighborhood but that’s too much detail to keep track of in a chart.

For figures on evictions, the canonical source is the San Francisco Rent Board. Except even these figures aren’t conclusive. The Rent Board only reports eviction notices, not completed move-outs. And as Hogan noted, a lot of unchosen tenant turnover happens through privately negotiated buyouts that don’t appear on formal court records.

I’ll be updating the chart from time to time and welcome any suggestions on format, accuracy, data sources, or anything else about the chart. Hope this effort is helpful.


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