After an unprecedented pandemic, things are beginning to return to normal in the Bay Area and that includes the cost of rent.

The Bay Area was one of the epicenters of falling rents throughout the state’s shut down due to many working from home, which resulted in less demand for housing. Now the rental market in San Mateo County appears to be stabilizing as cities reopen and people return to in-person work.

“This year, we’ve seen a pretty quick rebound. We’re not back to 2019 rent levels, and are still down double digits from March 2020. But we’re seeing quick growth every month, about 3% rent growth just in the past month in San Mateo County,” Igor Popov, Chief Economist at Apartment List, said.

Someone renewing their lease this summer might still get a favorable change in their rent but may not be the case in 2022, he said.

“Much of the Bay Area’s rents remain down around 15 percent compared to March 2020,” Jeff Andrews, data journalist from Zumper, said in an email.

In June, the median one-bedroom rent rose by 3.2% compared to May, landing at $2,260. Two bedrooms fell 0.3% to $2,920. However, it remains down 16.3% relative to March 2020, when the median one-bedroom rent was $2,700. It bottomed out in April 2021, when it was down 19.3%, Andrews said.

“In addition to San Mateo, rent in much of the Bay Area is starting to rise again and there’s every indication that will continue in the near-term, especially during the fall when offices reopen and workers are lured back to the area,” Andrews said.

Both experts said the long-term outlook depends largely around office reopenings and work-from-home policies. This will be a big factor into what drives the existing and the new rental demand as more people are drawn to the market for work.

Now that more people are getting vaccinated and cities are reopening, people are starting to return to the area resulting in rents stabilizing or rising in San Mateo County. And whether rent will return to its pre-pandemic level will again also depend on how many companies reopen their offices.

In a June 24 Zumper report, San Mateo ranked as the sixth most expensive city in the metropolitan area. The cities ahead of it are San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park and Burlingame.

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