Oakland Prices Rise as Attention Turns to S.F.’s Sister City

Despite its persistently high crime rates and political turmoil, Oakland is attracting residents and companies for its relative affordability, vibrant cultural scene, diverse population, and urban environment within commuting distance to San Francisco. And housing prices and rents are going up accordingly.

Oakland home values soared 16 percent this past June from a year earlier to a median of $616,300, the biggest increase of California’s major cities. And while the escalation has been dramatic, the East Bay is still a bargain compared with San Francisco, where the median three-bedroom single-family home goes for $1.47 million and the median price for all residential units is $1.1 million.

Houses in Oakland are selling fast, as well, and far above their list prices. The average home in Oakland sold for 17 percent more than its asking price in the second quarter, this year. That compared with 9 percent for San Francisco and 5 percent in Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Oakland homes were on the market an average of 20 days, fewer than the 34 days in San Francisco.

The median monthly rent jumped 15 percent in Oakland, the most in the U.S., to $2,846 in the same period. That’s almost triple the 5.5 percent growth in San Francisco and more than five times the nationwide increase. The rate for top-quality office space in the city has grown 43 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to two years earlier – the fastest pace in the world.

And the complexion of the city is changing, too. In the past, most people buying homes in the easternmost reaches of Oakland were working-class and professional African-Americans and Latinos. Today, there is a more diverse pool that increasingly includes whites and Asians. And many newcomers to Oakland are coming from across the Bay.

The most recent statistics available from the Internal Revenue Service support the impression that San Franciscans are moving east in record numbers. Between 2006 and 2012, there was a 42 percent increase in households moving from San Francisco to Alameda or Contra Costa counties, jumping from about 5,800 to more than 8,200. The total number of households that moved into the two East Bay counties increased by 29 percent over that time period, from 56,400 to 72,600. And the city’s lower prices suggest that more middle and lower-income San Franciscans will continue to leave the city in 2016, and onward. Some have even begun calling Oakland “the next Brooklyn,” comparing the flight eastward to those Manhattanites who leave downtown, NYC for their neighboring borough, in search of more affordable digs.

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