Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rental prices in Los Angeles hadn’t fallen in over a decade

The rental market’s upward trajectory hit a bump in late March as the state entered lockdown, and prices have been declining ever since. Now, six months later, we’re starting to see a clearer picture of just how much average rents have plunged in the country’s second-largest city.

The latest report from apartment rental platform Zumper suggests that the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in LA totaled $2,020 in September, down 10.7 percent since March and 11 percent year-over-year. This represents a savings of about $228 per month — a not-insignificant chunk of change.

Median two-bedroom rents have tumbled at a similar rate, declining 7.8 percent compared to March and 11.1 percent over the same period last year. The typical two-bedroom apartment leased for $2,810 in September, a difference of $229 since the early days of the pandemic.

San Francisco, which has for years been the nation’s most expensive city for renters, recorded a whopping 20.3 percent annual price drop for one-bedroom apartments in September. At a going rate of $2,830, SF held on to its top spot as the priciest rental market.

“Not only is this drop among the largest yearly decreases Zumper has ever recorded in our history of tracking rental prices, but it was also the first time the median 1-bed price in San Francisco was priced below $3,000,” wrote Neil Gerstein, a Zumper data analyst and economic researcher.

Other California cities that have netted significant year-over-year rental price declines for one-bedroom apartments include Oakland (-14.1 percent), San Jose (-9.3 percent) and Anaheim (-5.2 percent).

Historically cheaper cities, on the other hand, have seen hefty annual increases, signaling that rental demand may be shifting to these more affordable markets. Fresno, Bakersfield and Sacramento posted gains of 14.9 percent, 11 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

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