Social Media Fuels SoMa Rental Boom — But Will It Be San Francisco’s Next Big Real Estate Bubble?

“SAN FRANCISCO — Walk through San Francisco’s bustling SoMa neighborhood and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the economic roller coaster of the last 12 years was nothing more than a bad dream. Both the dot com boom’s epic implosion and the misery of the Great Recession vanish behind a chattering group of enthusiastic engineers waiting in line for artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches.

At times, it seems like there has been steady economic growth in SoMa from the tech explosion of the late 1990s to today’s boom. While the newfound expansion, one based on the seemingly limitless possibilities of social networking, is re-inventing the way people communicate from China to the Carribbean, its beating heart lies in SoMa’s row after row of converted warehouses.

“The high-tech industry is a bright spot in an otherwise gray economic picture. High-tech jobs have grown nearly four times faster than the overall economy during the past 18 months,” a report by real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle noted.

Over that same period, tech job growth in San Francisco surged by 16.1 percent — the fastest of any area in the country, according to the report. That’s one and a half times the rate in Silicon Valley during the past year and a half — and growth has been the largest in SoMa. If tech is one of the most resilient parts of the U.S. economy, the strongest part of tech is in SoMa.

These jobs are largely generated by eager young companies champing at the bit to become the next Google or Microsoft, and they all need somewhere to house their employees. This need has led to a hyperactive scramble for office space that seems shocking so soon after an irrationally exuberant real estate market catalyzed the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression.”

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