California rents fall 4 straight months. Where were the biggest dips?

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: Economic reality has hit California landlords, and their tenants are the winners with four consecutive months of falling rents.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet looked at December’s estimates of lease rates for new tenants in 56 large California cities, compiled by ApartmentList.

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California big-city rents ran $2,110 a month, according to my populated-weighted average of the cities. That’s down 1.1% in a month as 88% of the big cities tracked had falling rents for the month. Rents are off $86 or 4% since August.

And December’s rent was up only 2.4% in a year. That’s the smallest year-over-year increase in 19 months.

But let’s note this recent dip doesn’t wipe away pandemic-era pain for renters. California rents are still up 13% in three years, or $240 a month.

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Let’s look at some extremes among the 56 California cities tracked for December …

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Where were the largest rent declines?

1-month drop: Oceanside, off 3.9% to $2,622.

12-month drop: Ventura, off 4.4% to $2,063.

3-year drop: Oakland, off 15% to $1,628.

And which cities had the biggest rent gains?

1-month gain: Ventura, up 1.3% to $2,058.

12-month gain: Escondido, up 11.8% to $2,231.

3-year gain: Escondido, up 40% to $2,231.

And the monthly rent extremes?

Priciest city? Irvine at $3,068.

Cheapest? Fresno at $1,299.

Consider that rents fell in December in nine of California’s 10 most-populated cities. Here are the cities, ranked by one-month rent change …

Santa Ana: $2,111 monthly median new lease rate, down 1.9% in a month, up 0.5% in a year, and up 22% in three years.

San Francisco: $2,196 monthly, down 1.7% in a month, up 2% in a year, and down 13% in three years.

San Diego: $2,345 monthly, down 1.4% in a month, up 4.6% in a year, and up 27% in three years.

San Jose: $2,386 monthly, down 1.3% in a month, up 6.6% in a year, and up 3% in three years.

Los Angeles: $1,873 monthly, down 1% in a month, up 1.7% in a year, and up 6% in three years.

Long Beach: $1,678 monthly, down 0.9% in a month, up 4% in a year, and up 17% in three years.

Sacramento: $1,624 monthly, down 0.8% in a month, down 1.8% in a year, and up 20% in three years.

Oakland: $1,628 monthly, down 0.7% in a month, down 2.8% in a year, down 15% in three years.

Fresno: $1,299 monthly, down 0.2% in a month, up 1.6% in a year, and up 23% in three years.

Anaheim: $2,227 monthly, up 0.2% in a month, up 3.8% in a year, and up 26% in three years.

Bottom line

Ponder 2022’s economic timeline: Reduced coronavirus fears. Workers going back to the office. Students return to classrooms. On top of that, toss in some economic anxieties.

That nudged many renters, or potential renters, to think they no longer needed separate or larger living spaces. This took the steam out of demand for housing, translating to extra empty rentals for many landlords.

So now we’re seeing a sale on rents – discounting that could run throughout much of 2023.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

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