Created by George Lipp. Source: Craigslist

This chart shows the number of apartments of any configuration that are available in the Mission. I queried Craigslist daily for a year. I recorded the number of apartments listed for rent. I didn’t try to correct for double listings, or apartments which had been rented but not removed from the list. I was simply interested in general trends. There was a steady decline in availability from the beginning of 2021 until August of the same year. Availability seemed to level off until recently. From February, 2022, until now, the trend has been almost straight up.
What do you think is going on? Why has the availability of apartments in the Mission changed?  The fun of this discussion is that there seems to be no cause for this dramatic change. I welcome your ideas. Please post your conjecture in the comments. I encourage conspiracy theory, science fiction, and complete lunacy. In three days, I’ll post my musing. Have some fun. Launch a few outlandish ideas. We all need a little levity in these times.

But please keep comments to a couple of paragraphs.

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George Lipp

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

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  1. Maybe it’s deaths or injuries from the Covid jab? My doctor died last month of massive aortic hemmorhage after having his booster. My priest just had a stroke. Lots of milleniels got myocarditis and had to move back home with the parents. So maybe that’s it?

  2. The hockey stick has gone vertical: there’s close to a thousand listings just for the Mission today. Yes, that includes duplicates, spam, and mispostings, but as the rentier above notes, there is similar data noise (i.e., it’s a “constant”) throughout the series.

  3. I’m not entirely clear on whether this includes rooms for rent or only vacant units but if it does include rooms, I know a lot of people who had a roommate leave and managed to just cover the rent for a while rather than try to deal with covid related issues with bringing another person in, but that is shifting back now

  4. To better understand the Mission sudden apt. glut we should look at the situation in the rest of the city. Can we have that data too please?

      1. I’ve been tracking total CL apartment listings for the entire city (apartments/housing, not individual rooms for rent), and a similar trend exists in the entire city. i.e. Prior to pandemic I think the city in total had about 4000 listings on any given month. That peaked to ~ 10,000 April 2021. Then steadily decreased to ~ 6700 in October 2021. (I ignore December/January as many LL’s pull listings off due to holidays/new year.) Listings stayed ~6500 in January/February of 2022…and then they popped back up to ~10,000 in mid-late March!
        I am also at a loss as to why the increase is so pronounced. But I think the biggest driver is LL’s that held units off the market are coming back in, due to pandemic being “over”, Covid rent protections ending, etc.
        BTW it doesn’t matter that author (and I) included all listings (incl. duplicates etc.) because the data is pulled in a consistent manner. (So the duplicate variable is consistent.) Nothing is 100% accurate, but this is certainly good enough to see a trend like the article details.

  5. – Rising interest rates are forcing some LLs’ hands; units that were break-even to have vacant on a short-term basis are now marginal (or worse) losses if left vacant.

    – The arrival of hundreds of actually-affordable family units along the 16th St corridor.*

    – The SF Rental Inventory is starting to roll out. Lots of long-term vacancies with no corresponding drop in rental rates might get people wondering what happened to those lower rents that, according to the belief system of neo-classical economics, are supposed to magically appear to balance the market. LLs don’t want people thinking about real estate economics beyond simplistic Econ 1 supply & demand tautologies**. Look, a squirrel!

    *building affordable housing makes affordable housing more affordable by increasing the supply of affordable housing; building unaffordable housing dramatically raises property values, making nearby affordable and unaffordable housing more unaffordable.
    **e.g., speculation, tax write-offs, information asymmetries, market-making pricing power, non-fungibility of market segments, interest rates, etc.

  6. Wow ! You mean you will publish comments that are politically incorrect to the dour leftists there? Are you sure they can handle any fun levity?

  7. Why should you commit to an expensive lease, when you can just pitch a cheap tent for free and save your limited funds for drugs that make you feel like you are a God ? Also you are promised free housing for being a drug addled bum, so you might as well get in on the ground floor. FOMO is real.

  8. what happens when a well off person is hit and run and injured vs a common ssi elder. how are the sfpd police investigation efforts. value of a stolen property vs a life threatening felony injury

  9. If I had to guess, I’d say a lot of landlords have been holding their units empty until now, hoping to ride out the pandemic restrictions. If I was a landlord (and I’m not! hahaha) I’d be worried about people not paying rent due to pandemic hardships, average rents going down, eviction moratoriums (so if you have a sociopathic renter how do you get rid of them?)… that is – if I were a small landlord with lots of bills to pay.

    1. Regarding landlords keeping units of market: if a landlord rents a unit during the pandemic and the rent is lowered because of that, they are going to have a locked-in tenant who is protected with rent control. And over the years, that rent controlled rental income would be less income than simply taking a unit off the markets for, say, two years.

    1. A lot of new buildings opened up recently. with units that are too expensive, too small, badly designed, lack windows and parking and are unlivable by most standards. Planners forced developers to build a lot of tiny units with community kitchens and bathrooms. Who wants to live in those? The work at home trend requires bigger places and parking and that is not what was built in the Mission.

  10. Hard to say what’s happening without knowing a) your search terms in order to know b) what kind of posts are matching. Could be they’re catching something out of filter, posters are just spamming more (nothing stopping duplicates on CL), or a bug that made posts expire en masse. Socketsite tracks apartment listings (but not at the neighborhood level I don’t think) and they haven’t shown a listings spike like this.

    1. I selected all apartments (any configuration) available for rent as reflected on Craigslist. No rooms for rent or room mate. I didn’t do any data management. I felt that would be “editorializing”. Pretty simple minded. I finished dinner, opened Craigslist, extracted the number at the top of the listing for the mission. The numbers went along in an understandable manner until recently. I am uncertain if the folks at Craigslist changed how them listed apartments for rent.

  11. 1. The way you’ve set up the question is specious. You admit that you’re not tracking availability, but then ask: “Why has the availability of apartments in the Mission changed?” The only question you should ask based on your chart is: “Why has the number of listings on craigslist of apartments in the Mission changed?” The number of listings = (available apartments) x (average number of times an available apartment is listed on craigslist). The number of available apartments could be going down. You have no way of knowing from this data set.

    2. You’ve cherry picked a very small time frame to look at given apartments have been for rent for 100+ years in the Mission and on Craigslist for 25+ years. Looking at just one year of data doesn’t allow us to see any context. What was the long term average? 400? 600? 800? Maybe this is just reversion to the mean. Maybe 2021 & 2022 were outliers because of a global pandemic. If you could provide a data set of 5-10 years of data there might be some interesting trends we could see. Looking at such a small data set is rather useless.

  12. I’ve been living in the Mission for 2 years now. I looked at Craigslist and saw lots of nice units available and relatively affordable outside of Mission. Seeing them made me reconsider my situation so my current unit might soon contribute to this trend.

  13. I’d imagine the direction of that curve, down for a while with a sharp uptick beginning recently, if I’m reading correctly, correlates with the downward trend of rental $$ rates. A year ago I think apts were still cheaper than usual, but throughout last year, have become less cheap as life “”opens up”” more. In the mission, techies are scared of crime. They like their perfectly neat little computer worlds where cause and effect are easy and not confusing and don’t “short” their spocky little “circuits” out. But real life is more complicated than their free laundry services provided by Facebook, and certainly much less cut and dry than the computer programming language they write and speak in for a living. As we know, the tech workers work life is almost indistinguishable from their home life. It’s sad. Anyway. “Work won’t love you back.” *shrug*
    I heard a techie walking down valencia between 22nd and 24th street the other night when I was walking home from my valencia street job. He was talking to his invisible friend inside his ear (air pods, I think they call them?) about their “save sf” “channel” on “slack.” (Have these ppl even seen Richard linklaters masterpiece “slacker”? Are they selling madonna’s Pap smear? For how many Bitcoin?)
    I think these ppl are anti Chesa.
    Call it a hunch, call it my sf native 3rd generation hippie upbringing, but they’re scared. So they’re moving. So there’s more rooms for rent recently, as seen in your graph. There’s my hot take, mister George lipp, but only because, you asked. Don’t @ me, I said what I said and I know what I said.

  14. The extraterrestrials sequestered by the NSA in those now-abandoned apartments were moved to barracks in… Roswell, New Mexico. Keep watching the skies!

    1. When do they travel? What should we be looking out for? Understand from unsubstantiated sources they like Whiz Burger.

  15. Eviction protections expiring at the end of the month, and landlords already chomping at the bit by forcing tenants out.