All apartments presented on Craig's List

Craigslist seems to be telling us that more apartments are available in the Mission. Here are some charts that show the trends as represented by listings on Craigslist. It’s important to remember that these plots reflect the situation on the first and 15th of each month. All kinds of crazy things happen between “snapshot” times. I have omitted single rooms and duplicate listings. The charts provide a sense of the trends.

Total apartments available in the Mission District

When you look at the same data plotted independently, it shows an increase in the availability of one- and two-bedroom apartments, while the others remain about the same.

Availability by configuration — studio, one-bedroom, etc.

One would expect the rental rates to drop as availability increases. Well, just as availability decreased, the rates trailed the availability. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise; it takes time for a market (renter and landlord) to feel a change and alter behavior. It’s uncertain whether or how rent stabilization ordinances might alter these dynamics.

Average rental rates for apartments in the Mission

The next chart is my favorite, as it plots every apartment independently. It is, indeed, a little obscure, but it really tells the whole story. Each dot represents an individual apartment for rent. The colors code the time of the snapshot; apartments available on any given day share a color. The most recent is the red ball. The first cluster of dots are studio apartments, the second is one-bedroom units, and so on. This chart shows “outliers,” which are missed by the rate chart above. For example, check out the one- and two-bedroom plots. Clearly, as they said on Sesame Street, “are not like the others.” Yet when included in the average, they tend to overstate the central rate.

So there you have it. Once again these charts are kind of like a rorschach test. What do you see? What do you think the future will be? It seems as if rentals, especially in the Mission, are blown about by a hundred winds from a million directions. Where are we headed now? Fun to muse; impossible to predict.

Follow Us

George Lipp has long lived in the Mission. He’s our volunteer extraordinaire – always out taking photos or running across crimes in progress.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sorry for not “clearing the chart” before blabbering about all the little dots and how telling about their allure. The “y” axis is the easy one it is the monthly rental rate. The “x” axis or horizontal line across the bottom is obscure to say the least. It shows the position in a series a plot occupies. Not much help eh? As an example, if there are 10 apartments for rent in a given category and if the fifth most expensive apartment renting at $1,200, the Y position (vertical) for the plot will have a magnitude of $1,200 and the magnitude of its x position will be 5. That explains the first “studio” clump of plots. Well what I did was numerically stack the next category’s x magnitude on top of the most expensive in the previous series. Hopefully, what this does visually is allows you to put each apartment in perspective with others within its category and also compare each offering with other categories. One might draw conclusions like, “Gee for the same monthly cost of a mid priced one bedroom I could access a low end two bedroom etc. Also, if the slope of same colored plots within one category is low it indicates greater availability at that time and perhaps lower pricing. If the plots go straight up (as we have seen recently) there is less availability and in some cases greater price spred. Also the outliers on the up side might be seen as new more expensive apartment designs or landlords testing higher rates. We all can see a lot of things with a time series scatter diagram like this. I really wanted to animate the series and that would be a doozie. But friends and family intervened with “get a life George” So now you can locate me wandering the mission in search of meaning, I’m the one with the way oversized right side of their head.

    votes. Sign in to vote
  2. Apologies for any potential denseness if I’m missing the explanation, but what is shown by the horizontal axis on the “Rorchach”-style chart (the one that goes from 0 to 225)?

    votes. Sign in to vote
Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *