Santa Monica Rents Continue Dropping, New Survey Finds
January 8, 2021 -- Santa Monica rents continued declining last month, capping a 14.4 percent decrease since the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, according to the latest report by Apartment List.
The 1 percent decrease in December -- more than twice the normal dip for the month -- brought the median rents to $1,832 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,304 for a two-bedroom.
It marked the 10th straight monthly drop since rents saw their last increase in February.
The drop in what had been one of the hottest rental markets in California was nearly three times steeper than the state average decrease of 5.2 percent.
Santa Monica's drop reflected a trend in other high-rent areas with strong tech sectors, such as San Francisco, where rents have plummeted by 26.7 percent since March, and San Jose, where rents have dropped by 12.3 percent.
San Francisco's precipitous drop brought the median rent for a one-bedroom down to $1,992, only $160 more than Santa Monica.
In fact, Santa Monica's $1,832 median rent for a one-bedroom has fallen below that of other cities in the region.
Cities with higher median rents than Santa Monica now include Irvine and Newport Beach ($2,230), Santa Clarita ($1,930), Huntington Beach ($1,850) and West Hollywood ($1,840).
Still, Santa Monica rents remain among the highest in the County, with median rents in LA falling to $1,520 for a one bedroom and in Pasadena to $1,610.
They also remain among the highest in the nation, the survey found. Compared to most large cities across the country, "Santa Monica is less affordable for renters," according to the findings.
The shift to working from home triggered by the pandemic is heating up less expensive markets that now offer a viable choice to high rent cities like Santa Monica, the researchers found.
"As the priciest cities lose some of their allure, interest in more affordable mid-sized cities appears to be picking up, potentially driven in part by renters taking advantage of remote work arrangements," the survey found.
Still, those leaving high-rent markets are choosing tonear large cities, the survey found.
"Many of the cities with the fastest rent growth are still within long commuting distance of larger job centers," according to Apartment List.
This has driven up rents in some suburban cities, such as Chula Vista near San Diego and Riverside near LA.
"This trend may indicate that even workers who are planning for a permanent shift toward remote work still value the option to go into the office when needed," the researchers said.
The report calculates 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rents and aims to identify transacted rent prices, as opposed to the listed rent prices.
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