California Rent is 5% Below Peak Due to a 32-month High in Vacancies


“Rent Watch” monitors who is paying what and where at the nexus of tenants and landlords.

Buzz: The number of vacant apartments reached a 32-month high, while California rentals are down four months in a row, slightly below all-time highs.

Source: I examined ApartmentList’s rent and vacancy rates for the state of California using my reliable spreadsheet. The computation is predicated on a mixture of data from landlord listings that records a range of apartments with different numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms and Census surveys that measure what renters are paying.


Based on this computation, the average monthly rent in California was $1,917 in November, continuing a downward trend that began in July. Although it’s a sluggish time for landlords, average rents are currently 5% less than they were in August 2022, when the epidemic forced renters to move into larger apartments.

What caused the most recent price decline? Now that things are almost back to normal, there are more empty flats due to the high cost of renting, the state’s declining population, and small supply additions from new building.

In November, 5.2% of all rentals in the state were unoccupied, which is a record high since March 2021. Renters will also noticeably benefit from the cyclically low 3.4% vacancy rate in October 2021.

Bottom line

Let’s just say that rents in California have leveled off.

Yes, it appears like California will be a little more accommodating to tenants in autumn. However, it’s still difficult to locate a rental property at a reasonable price.

In six years, rent has increased by 21%. Also, the vacancy rate is little higher than the 5% average it has been since 2017.

Now compare the rent in the Golden State to the national market.

Although the difference is less than its 49% six-year average, California rent in November was 43% higher than the $1,340 average US rent.

Renters in the Golden State likewise have fewer options. The difference between the country’s 6.4% vacancy rate and California’s is 1.2 percentage points, and it has averaged 0.9 points since 2017.

County change

Here are price and vacancy statistics for 14 major California counties, arranged according to the amount of the rent reduction since the recent peak.

San Francisco: rent of $2,122 per month is down 12% over the previous six years and 19% from the peak in July 2019. November saw 5.2% of available positions, up from the most recent low of 3.4% in January 2017 and an average of 5.3% since 2017.

San Mateo: $2,385; increased 3% over the last six years but 9% below June 2019 peak. Openings? 5.1% vs the 5% average and the low of 3.8% (April 2019).

Alameda: $1,988; up 3% over the last six years, but 8% behind the July 2022 peak. Openings? 6.5% compared to the 3.8% January 2017 low and the 5.5% average.

Santa Clara: $2,461, up 9% over the previous six years but 7% below the August 2022 record. 3.9% in July 2022 was the lowest number of vacancies, with 5.8% on average.

Contra Costa: $2,006, up 12% in six years but 6% below peak in August 2022. Openings? 5.2% compared to the 3.4% January 2017 low and the 4.7% average.

Placer: $2,099, up 38% in six years but 6% behind August 2021’s peak. Openings? 3.8% against a June 2021 low of 1.5% and an average of 4%.

Riverside: $2,003, up 44% in six years but 6% behind June 2022 peak. Openings? 5.0% against the 1.3% August 2021 low and the 4% 6-year average.

Sacramento: $1,636; up 34% in six years, but 5% below peak of July 2022. Openings? 3.9% average compared to a low of 1.9% in August 2021 of 5%.

San Diego: $2,336; up 38% in six years, but 5% below peak in August 2022. Openings? 5.3% against the October 2021 low of 1.7% and an average of 4.3%.

San Bernardino: $1,785, up 42% in six years but 5% below peak in August 2022. Openings? 4.3% against the July 2021 low of 1.9% and an average of 4.1%.

Los Angeles: $1,900, up 15% in six years but 4% below peak in August 2022. Openings? 5.2% compared to the 3.6% November 2021 low and the 5.5% average.

Ventura: $2,408, up 32% in six years but 4% below peak in August 2022. Openings: 4.8% compared to the September 2021 low of 2.6% and the average of 4.5%.

Solano: $1,967, up 21% in six years but 4% below top of June 2022. Jobs open: 5.4% compared to September 2021’s low of 2.4% and the average of 4.5%.

Orange: $2,641, up 34% in six years but 1% behind July 2022’s peak. Average number of vacancies: 5.2%; low: 2.2% (October 2021).

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