Welcome back to San Francisco? Strategies to excel in today’s competitive rental market.

As the city starts to reopen, we get a glimpse of a post-pandemic life in San Francisco. The excitement of how things used to be can’t be ignored. It’s been 16 months now, and the quality of life that city residents once were accustomed to, seems almost foreign. Bars are now opening, restaurants extending capacity, and soon, an undetermined number of employees will be moving back to continue the life that we all cherished so much. Throughout this article, we will take a look at where we are in the market and the strategies needed to succeed over today’s competition.

The year is 2019 and you’re looking for an apartment in San Francisco, the median rent is for a one-bedroom around $3700. It’s expensive, but accepted as the cost of entry to live in one of the world’s hottest cities and your salary can afford it. After your move, a Giant’s game at Oracle Park with a slice of Tony’s pizza help you get settled and feel at home.

Fast forward to November, 2020, the beginning of winter in the pandemic. Residents have been leaving the city since spring and rents are down 30%. You’re searching for an apartment, but unsure of what kind of commitment you want to make given the current environment. Vaccines have yet to be distributed, and the majority of tech companies are having their employees working from home until Fall of 2021. The urban lifestyle has changed dramatically and with all forms of entertainment and nightlife completely shut down, San Franciscans find themselves asking “What will this city look like in the distant and not so distant future?”

Now we are living in the present, May 2021. You and most of everyone you know have been fully vaccinated and detailed debates are taking place on exactly how and when employees will be back in their offices. It feels like the city’s energy and excitement are returning which is amplified as new safety tiers are met and restrictions are lifted. As the masks come off and shuttles start commuting, we can’t help but ask ourselves; “Is San Francisco returning to where it left off?”

The median rent for a one bedroom is now $2850, and we are still about 20% away from our 2019 rental rates. Prospective tenants have gone from “seeing what’s on the market” to “ready to make a commitment” and future plans are being made to return to San Francisco. Still, some questions remain and the city’s future landscape is dependent on a number of undetermined factors.

Is this the blossoming market we’ve been waiting for? How do landlords take advantage?

No matter what business you are in, one thing has become clear through the pandemic, your ability to display and present your product online has become imperative to your success. People are more willing than ever to do business remotely. Whether it’s buying a car or renting an apartment, there are new ways to display your product accurately.

Renting apartments sight unseen is nothing new in San Francisco or any other major city, but the level of competition has made the video tour and virtual tour an essential introduction for any new listing. High-quality tenants are not drawn to poor marketing media and they are not willing to take a chance on a property that is not meeting their standard.

Strategies to help your property excel in today’s competitive rental market…

Professional marketing with both photos and video will help you get in the door, but what other strategies have been successful to secure high quality tenants through pandemic? With new safety guidelines in place for showings, how can we be sure your listing is getting the most exposure online?

There will always be multiple ways to find tenants in a city as prestigious as San Francisco, but now, finding the city’s strongest applicants requires a professional storefront and digital techniques which are trusted by the online community. Internet listing services are now charging fees for every listing and online apartment scammers are at an all-time high, so landlords are disadvantaged when trying to compete with traditional tenant search methods.

As San Francisco reopens safely and continues to have the highest vaccine rate in the country, more prospective tenants will be looking to relocate back to our beautiful city by the Bay. At this time, it’s important for landlords to be prepared and have a plan in place that ensures their success. These effective online strategies can be applied to any listing, but the experience is required when monitoring online traffic so listings can get the most exposure. If these steps seem overwhelming, there is help available for property owners looking to excel. A local leasing service should have the tools and experience needed to get your listing to the top of internet searches.

ReLISTO Leasing and Management is a leader in the industry and has spent the past year bolstering an already prominent online rental service. We’ve had success throughout the pandemic with both finding great tenants and managing San Francisco properties. We pride ourselves in helping landlords and tenants through both good times and bad. Contact us to assist you with a leasing and marketing plan that ensures you excel in today’s competitive rental market!

Joseph Johnston is a leasing consultant with ReLISTO and can be contacted at joseph@relisto.com for questions or comments.

ReLISTO’s Automated Showing Schedule Serves SF Renters Amidst New Health Orders

Along with many other local rental agencies, ReLISTO is celebrating San Francisco’s transition from Orange Tier to Yellow Tier in the revised health orders issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health on May 4, 2021. 

Health order tiers in relation to Bay Area rentals and open houses
Diagram of California’s color-coded tier system by San Francisco Chronicle


Yellow Tier is Great News for Rental Agencies and Landlords! 

Orange Tier required Bay Area rental agencies to limit open houses to virtual tours or scheduled private tours to individuals. As a result, we accommodated these health & safety restrictions by recording virtual tours for our listed properties and scheduling multiple 15-minute private tours for prospective tenants every day. 

In Yellow Tier, tours can now be conducted in groups (by appointment only) under the conditions outlined by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in Order No. C19-07w – Appendix C-1: Additional Businesses Permitted to Operate [Revised May 6, 2021].

ReLISTO’s Commitment to Landlords

The most effective way to find a qualified tenant while securing solid rent is to provide a personalized tour of your rental property. With over 11 years of experience, we understand the value this connection brings to our owners.

With this in mind, we have created an automated open house scheduling system to streamline the scheduling process of showings for prospective tenants. In other words, our unique, proprietary software gets your property to the renters’ eyes much faster and allows our agents more time to focus on customer service.

How to Access Our Automated Showing Schedule:

Use the quick step-by-step guide as shown below:

  1. Visit our Showing Schedule and choose which listing you’d like to RSVP to.
  2. Click the green “I’d like to RSVP” button on the right of the listing. 
  3. You will see a pop-up form where you can RSVP, ask questions, and provide your contact information (Name, Email, Phone Number). 
  4. Once the fields are filled out, click the button on the bottom of the pop-up, “Send Message to ReLISTO Agent.”
  5. The ReLISTO agent assigned to the requested property will contact you to confirm the scheduled showing.

Why Work with Us?

Today, the numbers are clear; people are moving back to the city. Offices are setting dates for employees to return, and former residents are yearning for a taste of the city as it once was.

ReLISTO is seeing an incredible amount of interest for every single one of our listed properties. Our unmatched technological capabilities and responsiveness bring our website over 30,000 views every month.

With San Francisco in Yellow Tier, we are excited to level up our commitment to our landlords while continuing to stay vigilant in keeping prospective tenants safe.


We would love to rent your property. Contact us and we will reach out to set up a 1-on-1 with one of our licensed agents.

Prospective Tenants:

Visit our Showing Schedule  to RSVP to our many properties available to you now!

Tenants Again Pushing Pause On Return

Here is an unfortunate email we just wrote to one of our landlords. The property was a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house in the Sunset which was slated to rent for $3800.00/month with a March 1, 2021 start date.


I hope you are doing well. I unfortunately would like to let you know that your tenants  have decided to withdraw their applications.  <Tenant > company <Amazon> just released the news that employees do not have to return to office until next year. Due to the change, they will extend their travel to different destinations.


ReLISTO has been very successful in securing tenants for our landlords clients during Covid. We conduct virtual and private tours, post videos of each property and have an amazing set of online tools allowing prospective tenants to easily view each unit. Most importantly, we pay for a lot of advertising so our landlords listing gets seen.

In the last month, tenants have been returning to the city to “get a lease secured before prices go up”.  We have rented multiple properties due to this. With recent announcement from Salesforce and other tech companies, the need to return to work is again a distant requirement. Tech workers will stay away and landlords, restaurants and businesses will need to wait longingly for their return. For some , this will result in a significant economic hardship if not bankruptcy.

On behalf of our landlords, I  call upon the San Francisco Govt to proactively engage/ partner  with the companies in our community as well as local schools to make a plan to get things back to normal.  Some cannot wait till 2022.