April 19, 2024
Two Bay Area markets are the easiest places to rent in California.

 ”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: Three California coastal markets are the hardest spots in the state to find an apartment while two Bay Area markets are the easiest.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed the California slice of RentCafe’s study of 139 markets nationwide. The analysis showed the most competitive places to find an apartment and included 12 California markets.


So, what makes a town a tough market for renters? Compare California’s six most-competitive markets with its six least-competitive.

All six of the hardest-to-rent markets – San Diego, Central Coast, Orange County, Silicon Valley, Central Valley and Eastern LA County – had above-average competitiveness grades on a national scale. San Diego ranked 18th most competitive, and OC was ranked 19th.

Think about these measurements …

Empty units: This availability marker shows 3.9% vacancies in the most competitive markets vs. 5.7% for the least competitive.

Vacancy length: How quickly tenants must act? Units go 38 days unrented for most competitive vs. 42.

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How many looks: Who will you fight off? 15 prospective tenants per unit for most competitive vs. 11.

Renewal rate: A popularity measure shows 52% of tenants stay in their unit in most competitive markets vs. 48%.


Here the 12 California rental markets, ranked on RentCafe’s “competitiveness” scale – from hard-to-rent to easy – and key variables behind the gradings …

San Diego: 4% of units are empty and stay vacant for 33 days while drawing 17 looks. Renewals run 51%.

Central Coast: 3% empty, stay vacant 38 days, draw 17 looks. Renewals? 51%.

OC: 4% empty, stay vacant 40 days, draw 13 looks. Renewals? 61%.

Silicon Valley: 4% empty, stay vacant 34 days, draw 14 looks. Renewals? 51%.

Central Valley: 4% empty, stay vacant 39 days, draw 10 looks. Renewals? 53%.

Eastern LA: 4% empty, stay vacant 41 days, draw 20 looks. Renewals? 43%.

North LA /Ventura County: 4% empty, stay vacant 41 days, draw 13 looks. Renewals? 50%.

Inland Empire: 6% empty, stay vacant 44 days, draw 12 looks. Renewals? 53%.

Sacramento: 5% empty, stay vacant 43 days, draw 11 looks. Renewals? 51%.

Western LA County: 6% empty, stay vacant 40 days, draw 11 looks. Renewals? 38%.

East Bay: 6% empty, stay vacant 40 days, draw 10 looks. Renewals? 48%.

San Francisco Peninsula/North Bay: 7% empty, stay vacant 41 days, draw 9 looks. Renewals? 49%.

Bottom line

This scorecard repeats two common themes in California real estate.

There’s a longer-running trend: Units closer to the coast are more challenging the find. And a pandemic-era trait suggests the Bay Area has more “for rent” signs out.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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