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Rental competition: study shows average of 24 applicants for every rental in San Diego

Updated: Aug 9

"It has been very competitive, and people will do backflips to get into a place," said Brittny Brown,

co-founder of Bridgehaus Property Managers.

SAN DIEGO — It's no secret just how competitive the housing market is in San Diego. But that's also true for the rental market.


According to new numbers published by apartment search website, rentcafe.com, for every available unit, there's an average of 24 applicants.


This time last year, the average was 14 applicants. Some experts say it could go even higher.


"Right now, the number grows to 24 and until supply and policy gets in line with this, until they start adopting things to meet the ever-growing demand, then it will continue to grow," said Doug Ressler with Yardi Matrix, the company behind the published report.


Ressler’s research found San Diego is the 16th most competitive rental market in the entire country. In California, it ranks third.


"Orange County is number one. Central valley is number two," said Ressler.


Ressler says contributing factors include lack of supply, and the high cost of buying a home.


In April, the median sales price in San Diego hit the $1 million mark.


"We see people like millennials who are the 40-50 age group, the upper end of the millennials, they're renting longer. They should be out buying homes, but homes aren't being built. They can't afford them," said Ressler.


"It has been very competitive, and people will do backflips to get into a place," said Brittny Brown, co-founder of Bridgehaus Property Managers.


In some cases, she's seen up to 200 inquiries for one available unit.


Brown says some people will offer to pay more than the listed price to get ahead.


Others have even used bribes to edge out the competition.


“We've had a few people try to buy us lunch. My partner was invited for a glass of wine,” said Brown.


While bribes don't always work, according to Brown, here are some tips that can help you stand out:


  • Write a cover letter about yourself, who’s moving in and what you like about the place.

  • Ensure you have a good credit score.

  • Follow up on your application, but not too much.

  • Show interest, ask questions, and be personable during a rental tour.


"Talking will make a difference and keep you in the back of their mind when they're looking at applications," said Brown.


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