Noe Valley Voice June 2009

Rental Prices Down, At Least Temporarily

By Corrie M. Anders

This spring, renters have been finding it easier and cheaper to make Noe Valley their home.

"There's a fairly good supply of rentals in Noe Valley right now," said J.J. Panzer, a broker and property manager with Real Management Company on Castro Street.

Rental prices also have declined, though not precipitously, he said. "You can't just put stuff on the market and have it rented [anymore]."

In late May, Panzer was pricing some newly vacant units at 10 percent below the previous tenants' rent.

"It has a lot to do with the economy," he explained. "I'm not seeing a lot of people coming in with out-of-town jobs like they used to. Before, they had six-figure incomes and were moving here to work with high-tech or pharmaceutical companies, and took whatever I could give them."

The trend toward lower rents also showed up in a Voice survey of listings on, the online want-ad service.

During the first week of May, the average asking rent for a studio apartment was $1,335 a month, down $164 (10.9%) from $1,499 a year earlier. Landlords sought an average $1,853 for a one-bedroom unit, which was a $100 drop or 5.1 percent below $1,953 a year ago. It was a similar story for two-bedroom apartments, which carried an asking rent of $2,776--down $240 or 8 percent from the $3,016 owners wanted 12 months ago. (For additional comparisons, see "A Snapshot of Noe Valley Rents," page 21.)

Dennis Etorma, property manager for Saxe Real Estate on Van Ness Avenue, agrees with Panzer that economic stress has curbed the once full-throttle demand for rentals in Noe Valley. He's seen a number of tenants move after losing jobs with high-tech and bio-tech companies.

"We have a few tenants who are being laid off from Google," Etorma said. In the past, Noe Valley attracted so many Google employees that some residents called the neighborhood "Googleville."

Etorma said a few former tenants are moving into less expensive digs or into larger spaces where they could double up and share costs. They also are moving to the East Bay, where rents are less expensive, he said.

There's no telling how long renters will continue to have, as Etorma put it, "a choice of locations they can afford" in Noe Valley. That's because both Etorma and Panzer think the rental market is starting to heat up again.

"The [spring] season for rentals took off a little later than I'd expected," Panzer said. "I expected it to start around the middle of April, and it didn't start until the middle of May."