Rental Availability on the Rise, Rates Stabilized

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It may not seem this way if you’ve been looking for an apartment in the Mission District lately, but there are more available rentals and, contrary to what many think, rates are stable, according to the latest numbers on Craigslist.

The graphs below show apartments listed on Craigslist on the first and 15th of each month for the past three years.

In the first graph below, available apartments are grouped by the number of bedrooms and stacked on top of the other. This graph shows total availability. 2-1-13-stackedw

This shows that, overall, the availability of apartments has remained stable or has slightly increased since a low in August 2011.

2-1-13-unstackedw

The second graph shows availability, also grouped by the number of bedrooms. The data groups are listed independently.

So, if the “supply” is stable or nudging up, what is happening to the amount being asked for available units?

In the chart below, I have plotted the rates and trended the data using a polynomial smoothing algorithm (Excel uses Bezier curves, which is nearly equivalent to cubic splines). According to the chart, it appears that the rates have stabilized. But as many informed readers here know, real statisticians never use the word “appears.” Have I shown my hand?

2-1-13-Ratew

Ah, and finally my favorite scatter chart. Why do I like this one other than for the fact that it’s colorful? Because it shows each individual apartment listed over the past three years. This chart is intended for insomniacs and incurable stargazers like me.

Obviously, the “Y” axis is the monthly rent rate. The “X” axis, however, is a little murky. Let’s take a look at the five clumps of dots. The first clump is studio apartments, followed by the one-bedrooms and so on. The “X” axis scale is difficult because it restarts with each clump.

What’s telling for me is the slope and breadth of the like-color plots in each clump. A broad series with a shallow slope indicates at that period in time there were many apartments listed (breadth) and that the range from a low to a high price was not very big. Also, if you look hard enough, I think you can see Aquaman riding a unicorn.

2-1-13-All-Listw

So there you have it. The world now awaits your thoughts. I’d say it is “open season.” Unlike authors of most serious articles, I welcome political, socio economic, and conspiracy theories.

Note from the author: The graphs included in this article represent apartments listed on Craigslist for the Mission District. The data is extracted on the first and 15th of each month. The duplicate and single room listings are omitted. These charts may only be used with the written permission of Craigslist.org and MissionLocal.org. 

George Lipp is a community contributor.

3 Comments

  1. Gates

    Excellent data, sir. Do you have the sample size?

    • Basically I plot all the listings on Craigslist. If you looked at the “stacked” chart it will give you a look at the universe. Oh, I go through and weed out double listings and rooms for rent and the sample is taken on the first and fifteenth of each month. That said, the sample size is so small there is a lot of normal variation. Kind of fun, eh?

  2. Tom

    Any chance the raw data set could be made available? Even if not, it’s fascinating… nice work.

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