Rents in Bernal Heights Up 24% Since Last Year


San Francisco’s population is growing rapidly, but we haven’t built nearly enough new housing to keep pace with our City’s growing popularity. The result is predictable to anyone with a basic grasp of supply and demand: Renting a place to live in San Francisco has become nose-bleedingly expensive.

But what about Bernal Heights? For insight on our hyperlocal rental market, the data geeks at Zillow offered to crunch some numbers for us. Bottom line: The rent is too damn high! Median rents in Bernal are even higher than in San Francisco overall, having climbed by 24% in the last year alone. Oof. Zillow’s Tali Wee sent us this summary:

Renting in Bernal Heights is more expensive than the median rent in the San Francisco metro. Currently, the median rent price per month in Bernal Heights is $4,326. For comparison, San Francisco rents are still steep at $3,088, but significantly less than Bernal Heights.

These local prices increased 2.1 percent since last month alone and a whopping 23.6 percent in the last year. If you’re a renter in Bernal Heights, you’ve likely experienced major hikes in your rent throughout the past few years. If you’re looking for a rental in Bernal Heights, anticipate prices to remain expensive throughout the year.

Also in Bernal Heights, home values appreciated 13.8 percent since last year. If renters are planning to buy, it’s becoming more and more difficult to save a down payment because rents are so expensive. Plus, purchasing a home becomes out of reach as values appreciate and prices rise; the median home value in Bernal Heights is $1,127,500. These values are forecasted to grow another 5.1 percent throughout 2015.

Right now, renters pay about $3.25 per square foot, about three times the national rate ($1.10). Across the country, renters are applying an average of 30 percent of their monthly incomes on rent, and an astronomical 44 percent in San Francisco.

Renters thinking about buying in Bernal Heights can breakeven on the upfront costs in approximately 1.3 years. Zillow’s breakeven horizon shows the length of time it would take for the costs of renting to exceed the total costs of buying the same property. So, renters who adore the Bernal Heights community and who plan to stay longer than 1.3 years are financially better off buying then renting – especially as home values appreciate, which increases returns on their investments.

17 thoughts on “Rents in Bernal Heights Up 24% Since Last Year

  1. Rent control does a great job of distorting SF’s rental market. You have many entitled renters who hang on to their rent controlled unit, because they are getting a great deal from a private landlord. So that severely restricts unit turnover and hence supply. Plus you have our Bored of Stupidvisors passing asinine rent control laws left and right, many getting thrown out at superior court. So more property owners are jumping on the short term/corporate/vacation rentals, again restricting supply. Plus there are an estimated 10-20,000 rental units being left vacant by choice, as these owners don’t want to deal with restrictive rent control laws.
    And people wonder why rents are so high? Stop voting for total morons like Campos, a leading cheerleader in the charade of SF’s Rent Control Industrial Complex.

  2. Rent control certainly doesn’t help lower rents, but it’s unfair to blame the problem on rent control. Rents would probably still be among the highest in the country without any rent control: as the poster said, the ratio of new units to new jobs in the Bay Area in the last few years is insanely skewed (around 8 to 1, I think?), so the demand would be a huge problem even if turnover were faster (a.k.a., more current residents left more quickly). As a renter who doesn’t want to stay in the same shared apartment for decades, I suffer under rent control, but I’m not wholly opposed to it. As long as there continues to be no housing supply, it’s nice to see at least some counterbalancing force to prevent the existing cultures here from being totally torn to shreds.

  3. There are not nearly enough units under rent stabilization (and many of those units are actually at or close to market rate because of turn-over) to do anything but marginally affect rents. The whole reason we have rent stabilization laws is because the rents had gotten so high without rent control laws. But we need much more housing at all different price points to house all of the new residents as well as provide for who we already have.

    • You do realize that over 80% of SF rental stock is under rent control? Jusss checkin…

      And, there are many, many people who are waaayyyy under market rent….just check along your friends. I’d say easily 50% of SF renters are 20% or below market rent. RC seems quite effective at giving huge breaks for those entitled by time, while making the marginal rent rate sky high. So if that’s your idea of fairness….

      • Meanwhile, the big rent control is the fixed, non-market sensitive, mortgages I and you and other land/home owners enjoy.

        Additionally, the cross subsidies that underwrite the non-rent controlled subsidies of rents (direct or indirect gov’t programs) are largely paid for out of the income taxes the renters pay, so there’s little net subsidy after all.

        Get rid of the rent control I refer to in the first paragraph by taxing away the market rent of locational values of real estate and then we can end the conventional rent control SFrentier refers to. The result: the death of land speculation, the funding of community programs such as police/fire/schools/roads/etc, and the ability then to reduce if not eliminate business taxes, sales tax, and income taxes.

      • Cliff notes version of a rather long and well debated subject:

        David, David, David. You need to explore places like Sweden and Norway, where Socialism prevails. Americur is about private property ownership and rights. most European countries have much more socialized housing than we do. However, their market rate housing is more expensive than ours (comparing European to American cities in general.). There is plenty of cheap housing available in a free market place like America. I’m not sure why people feel it’s their God given right to live in expensive cities like SF.

      • Neither is it a God given right to own the earth to the exclusion of others except upon payment of an access fee. That’s why socializing land values but utterly privatizing earned income makes sense. Taxes on my and other people’s labor is socialist. . . and that’s America today. The proposal to remove taxes from earned income is not socialist, so the suggestion to look at Sweden or Norway is not apt, though there may be merit to the economic approaches of those lands and cultures. If one means by saying America is about private property rights that America is about the theft of land from Indians, Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, France, Spain, and from fellow Americans via share-cropping, then that species of private property is abhorrent. If one means private property in labor value and the value of goods and services, that is principled.

        In any case, call it what you will, socializing land values will kill land speculation, yes?

        And will not deprive the land owner of anything the land owner created, yes?

        And will return to the public the full value added to land value by the provision of public infrastructure, yes?
        Ex.: the paving of Cortland Avenue adds value to the parcels abutting and in proximity to Cortland Avenue, and this is reflected in higher rents. Businesses leasing Cortland sites pay this higher rent to the land owner, but the land owner doesn’t remit the full value added of paved Cortland to the community. That’s a subsidy of the land owner; a transfer of business goods and services values to the land owner. Socializing land values will recover that value added without taxing the business’ provision of goods and services. Instead, socializing land values will simply end the ability of the land owner to farm businesses.

        This article was about the rise of rents in Bernal. Would any reader, real estate agent, or business care to assert that the rise in land value of individual parcels is attributable to the individuals or entities who own those parcels?

  4. Occupy Bernal land values! As a land owner in Bernal (100 block of Ellsworth) I’ve seen my real estate appreciate in value by about 300K since I bought in 2005. I had infinitesimally little to do with that wealth gain. It is the growth of society that has powered up the value of my location location location. For society to retrieve that value to itself would not be to deprive me of anything I made. It would simply oblige me to live according to the market. I would rent out another room in my home to make the property tax increase. As it is, however, I am taxed much more for the contribution I make to community as a school teacher than I am taxed for owning land commanding a high rent (a high rent generated by the growth of San Francisco). Soon I will net more potential income from merely “share-cropping” my land in Bernal Heights than I will from imparting culture to your children–our children. This is backwards from sanity.

    The ever increasing rents of SF could and should pay for the streets, MUNI, fire protection, public ed., the UC system, the courts, museums, etc. Instead, at present, those increasing rents stifle occupancy by so many workaday neighbors. Dismissing this argument by simply saying, “That’s the market,” ignores the existential difference between owning land and owning something you’ve actually made such as your labor (I’m a teacher) or the stuff I own made by labor (my house, for instance). We Land owners in SF are not subject to the market dynamics because, in a word, we are monopolists. We didn’t create this economic arrangement which so grants us privilege in owning the value of the earth, but we need not be silent about that arrangement’s peril to the knit together nature of society. By silence we are complicit in driving the wealth divide sharper and deeper within community.

    Give me a holler if you’re ready to Occupy Bernal land values.

    • So owning land in highly desireable locations like SF is “bad”, but owing land in places where it doesn’t appreciate much has good things like, people making a commitment to their community, giving people security, perhaps farming, being close to family and friends, being able to house family, etc.; all the things associated with buying a home and making that commitment to your community. BUT, according to you, if that location is highly desireable and your land value explodes, becomes too expensive for others, than that is inherently bad. OTOH, if you buy in places that need help, like say Detroit, you’ll be making a stand. Perhaps buying in Detroit would be more aligned with your values?

      • Do not impute or ascribe to what I write what has not been shared by me, either in denotative or connotative fashion. You use quotation marks around a word you and you alone have used. False ascription and red-baiting are effective at times but unethical parliamentary tactics. I don’t say that rising rents are bad. As a matter of fact I believe they generally are a good thing . . . if they are socialized. I have said just that. If socialized, rising land values mean more revenue for schools, museums, roads, public parties, even for, if the electorate so directs, even for revenue for keeping lower income folk in the mix of those who reside in a town or city.

      • You’re the one complaining about the added value to your home that you don’t feel you deserve in SF. So I’m asking, what if you buy, like most places in America, where land values don’t go up much, if at all. Is that also bad to be able to buy that land, or only land where people can make money from it?

        You seem to have a problem with people profiting for land/real estate, but it sounds like profiting from businesses, stocks, ownership of other production is ok. It’s just the land. That’s bad. That should be for all. All land. For all. Government controlled, I presume.

        See how nutty that sounds? Not too many people riding that train bro.

      • SRentier, thank you for asking the sorts of questions respecting a Land Value Tax (LVT) model that are wise to ask, and which others are asking but haven’t the inclination to ask out loud as you have.

        The proposal to tax the market-determined potential land rent does not come burdened with an ideological aversion to private title to land. The moral perspective embedded in the proposal is that the value of land is community-generated and therefore belongs to the creator of that value, namely the community. It’s a conservative perspective (she who creates value ought to enjoy that value). The revenue would be no more or less government controlled than is current tax revenue, though there would be a significant diminution of the role land speculators play in funding elections, and that would be healthy, I assert. Who would fund elections wouldn’t be economic rent-seeking interested parties (of which, I assume, judging from your moniker you are a member), but would be those who are willing to give up earned income to contribute to campaigns. (For all I know you may earn a fine income from producing goods and/or services, but your moniker indicates allegiance to unearned income mechanisms . . . I use the term “unearned income” in its economic textbook definition sense, not as a vile epithet.)

        Whether land goes up in value, or goes down or sideways is not, in fact, at issue. What is at issue is who is to benefit from land values? Detroit would generate less revenue per acre than San Francisco does. Consequently there would be less revenue to use for social infrastructure per capita in Detroit than in SF under an LVT model.

        Just as in our exchanges in other forums, so now here I find you a spurious discussant. You label and discount LVT on the basis of its being American or unAmerican, or it’s being popular or unpopular, but you have, it would seem, enough good sense to see there is no use debating that the proposal would (and I here recount LVT’s virtues chiefly for the edification of and consideration by other readers–for this opportunity I thank you, SFR):

        1) eliminate land speculation;
        2) raise gobs of public revenue;
        3) enable the abolition of business, sales and earned income taxes;
        4) raise wages by raising the margin of production (Ricardo’s Law of Rent);
        5) vastly curb sprawl;
        6) remove land values as collateral for debt, thus reforming the nature of money so that money’s collateral was the value of goods and services only, not also debt for access to nature.

        Finally, and I do intend to mean finally in the realm of electronic forums, SFR, I recommend to you Progress & Poverty by Henry George. Read it for its holistic truth and goodness, forgiving its few and far between pratfalls of mere narrow opinion. In its essence and economic analysis it is so far in the right that, in the words of Albert Einstein, “Men like Henry George are rare, unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice.”

      • And what’s this nonsense about land or property owners needing to pay for city infrastructure? What do you think property taxes are for? Or the endless bonds passed that are paid by property owners? Or the assements on every parcel in this city for education? All this is not enough for you?

        And btw, you try buying real estate in this crazy ass town, managing potentially entitled tenants, investing/managing in renovations, dealing with city requirements, all the paperwork, etc., and then tell me it’s not work. Even if you try and rationalize that the building itself is a “business”, but the land is a passive asset, do what? Land is an asset, just like company stock, bonds or gold- those are passive investments too. So for the record, I LIKE making a profit off the land that I own. Most land in owned by the government anyways, and is socialized. A small percentage is privately owned. Most successful democracies follow that pattern. The great 20th century experiment with communism whereby the government owned all the land? Fail.

        Really David. You sound like a nice guy, but you need to get a different hobby!

  5. I don’t feel “entitled by time” as a renter in San Francisco with “lowish” rent that we could barely afford when we moved into our apartment 3 years ago to be closer to work/school. Rents have nearly doubled since then. I am more thankful than can possibly be expressed that we have wonderful, caring landlords who appreciate that teachers work better when living in their school community. My only pay raise in 3 years has been this year after the difficult negotiations we had with the school district. Without rent control and caring landlords our family would be forced to leave the community we support and serve. I am tired of hearing about the “market” as justification for evictions and plain old greed.

    • Read what I wrote carefully. Hint, it’s not just the market, it’s also rent control! Why do you think rents have doubled in the last 3 years? Sure tech jobs are a factor, but today even people who rented 3 years ago (like you) are now 50% of market rent, meaning you and many others aren’t likely to leave the city anytime soon. And what about those renting 5, 7, 10 years ago? Are they gonna leave? So the marginal rent rate of today is warped beyond belief.

      Now, keep in mind that rent control does not take into account if you’re a community based teacher or a google engineer. So there are TONS of people here who make good money and nevertheless have low rents.

      How is that fair?

      You want to at least begin to bring back rents into line? How about injecting some common sense into this comical city – Means test rent control. No RC for well off people!

  6. Pingback: Two Homes Tell a Brain-Melting Story About Bernal Heights Real Estate | Bernalwood

  7. And I don’t know why y’all think SF is so expensive. It’s cheap compared to Manhattan, central London, Hong Kong, etc., etc. SF is becoming a world class city and is actually quite cheap by global standards. Perhaps it’s not to the liking of the typical guilty-liberal-commoner, but you better get used to the changes.

    I can tell you this. Foreign investors could give a rat’s ass about Campos, etc. and their desire to save cheap housing here. SF is becoming a world class city, has a lot of visibility due to tech, and it on a one way path to cool, world class status. I think change is good. And I’m glad to personally be here to witness (and benefit 🙂 from these changes.

    Have a nice day!

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