Increased rent, house prices hinder Bay Area residents


Marrisa Chow

House prices in the Bay Area have dramatically increased over the last two decades.

Bay Area house prices have doubled over the past two decades, leaving unemployed residents in anguish during the pandemic.

The Bay Area is home to some of the largest technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Oracle. These large companies, and many smaller ones, employ 225,300 of the residents in the Bay Area. Because these people want to be close to their jobs’ headquarters, there has been an increase in relocation to the Bay Area over the past decade. Tech industry workers also have high salaries, allowing real estate companies to raise house prices knowing these workers could still afford it. As tech companies’ revenue increases, so do house prices, making it difficult for some families to keep up with rent. 

Daisy Smith lived in a house in Redwood Shores that her family had rented since the early 2000s. In 2015, her family moved out of their home because they could not afford the exponential increase in rent price. 

“Starting in 2012, the landlords raised the rent every six months,” Smith said.

The fear of starting your life in a home and being kicked out due to an increase in rent or house prices is a reality for many people in the Bay Area; the pandemic has only worsened this.

As a result of the pandemic, over 150,000 people lost their jobs in the Bay Area as of May. Without a source of income, keeping up with extreme rent prices in the Bay Area seems impossible to many, including Callie Gomez. Gomez worked as a substitute in the Belmont Redwood-Shores School District for years until the pandemic decreased the need for substitutes, forcing her to give up her job. 

“When I lost my job, there was no way I could stay in the Bay Area if my husband hadn’t kept his job because the unemployment pay is so little,” Gomez said. 

Like Gomez, many former Bay Area residents were forced to sell their homes and move to other cities or states where rent and house prices are more affordable. 

Zillow demonstrates house price patterns in the Bay Area and predicts 2021’s patterns. (Zillow)

Even residents who have kept their jobs have chosen to relocate as an effect of the pandemic, real estate agent Robert Nebres noted. 

“Companies are allowing employees to work remotely in much the same way students are attending classes [via Zoom]. Because of this flexibility, a phenomenon has emerged where many employees, especially in technology, are choosing to move out of the expensive Bay Area to work in lower-cost cities where housing is more affordable and work can be done remotely,” Nebres said.

Despite the increase in Bay Area homeowners selling their homes, Nebres noted that as of now, house prices have not varied much as a result of the pandemic and likely will not until the next recession.

“It remains to be seen how the pandemic will change Bay Area housing prices, but as of 2020, the data continues to show the Bay Area as arguably the strongest real estate market,” Nebres said.