Valley apartment rents rising. But get a load of other prices in California

Apartment rents in Fresno rose by almost 6 percent during the past 12 months, climbing to an average monthly rental rate of $1,047 this month according to a new nationwide analysis.

RENTCafe.com, a national apartment-search website, reported that Fresno’s market-rate rents were among the fastest growing among mid-sized cities across the U.S., based on the price of apartments in buildings or complexes that have at least 50 rental units. In neighboring Clovis, a 5.4 percent increase since December 2017 put the average rent at $1,084.

The average rates are spread across all apartment types; studios typically are the cheapest units, while prices rise depending on the number of bedrooms and the size of the unit. The RENTCafe.com calculations do not take into account “affordable” units that are either subsidized or provide incentives for developers to serve lower-income individuals or families.

Among California cities, the Mojave Desert community of Lancaster had the largest year-over-year percentage increase in rents at 9.1 percent, which sent the average rate to $1,284 per month. The smallest increase, at 0.4 percent, was reported in Irvine, in Orange County, but the average rent there is just shy of $2,400 a month.

Elsewhere around the Valley, rents in Merced and Visalia climbed 7 percent, according to RENTCafe data, rising to an average of $978 per month in Merced and $1,067 per month in Visalia.

Among more than 60 notable cities in California included in the report, the five cities with the lowest rental rates were all in the central or southern San Joaquin Valley, led by Bakersfield at $973 per month, then Merced, Fresno, Visalia and Clovis.

The highest average monthly rents in the state are all in the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco at more than $3,600 per month, followed by San Mateo at $3,212, Sunnyvale at $2,900, Santa Clara at $2,850, San Jose at $2,723 and Oakland at $2,707.

In the meantime, sales prices of single-family homes in the Fresno-Clovis market have risen at a much slower pace than apartment rents, according to data from the Fresno Association of Realtors.

In September, the most recent month for which information was available, the median price of a home climbed by just 1.9 percent, from $265,000 in 2017 to $270,000 this fall.

The number of homes sold was down from a year earlier, tumbling more than 15 percent from 635 sales in September 2017 to 539 in September 2018.

Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.