Finding an Affordable Home Can Feel Increasingly Out of Reach

A single homebuyer would need to save for nearly 11 years to reach a 20 percent down payment on the typical U.S. home

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

(February 17, 2018)

SEATTLE /PRNewswire/ — In today’s highly competitive housing market, finding an affordable home can feel increasingly out of reach, especially for singles.

A single homebuyer would need to save for nearly 11 years to reach a 20 percent down payment on the typical U.S. home, according to a new Zillow® analysis. However, for married or partnered couples, it would take less than five years. In San Jose, California, a single buyer would need more than 30 years to save for a down payment – longer than the lifespan of a typical home loan.

Zillow’s analysis combined home values and income data from Census to estimate how long it would take for both an individual and couple to save for a 20 percent down payment on the median-priced home, assuming they saved 10 percent of their income every year.

Single buyers typically have a smaller budget than couples, which leaves them with fewer homes to choose from and limits them to the most in-demand portion of the housing stock. The number of homes for sale is limited across the country, down nearly 11 percent over the past year, and nearly 18 percent for the least expensive homes. A single person could afford to buy less than half (45 percent) of the U.S. housing stock, compared to a married or partnered couple, who could afford 82 percent of all homes.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that buying a home is a central part of living the American Dream, but for unmarried or un-partnered Americans, that dream is increasingly out of reach,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. “Single buyers typically have more limited budgets, which means they are likely competing for lower-priced homes that are in high demand. Having two incomes allows buyers to compete in higher priced tiers where competition is not as stiff.”

The difference between what a single person could afford compared to a couple is greatest in Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento, California. In Portland, 73 percent of homes are affordable to a couple, but only 6 percent are affordable to a single buyer. For Sacramento buyers, a couple could afford 75 percent of homes while a single homebuyer could afford 8 percent of homes.

Single buyers will have it easiest in Indianapolis, where saving for a down payment takes less than eight years, and they can afford the highest share of homes among the largest American housing markets.

Years to Save for a
Down Payment

Percent of Housing
Stock Affordable

Maximum Value of
Affordable Home

Median Household
Income

Metropolitan Area

 Married /
Partnered

 Single

 Married /
Partnered

 Single

 Married /
Partnered

 Single

 Married /
Partnered

 Single

United States

4.6

10.8

82

45

$412,736

$176,098

$80,800

$34,500

New York-Northern New Jersey

7.5

18.8

64

10

$521,518

$208,055

$ 103,000

$41,200

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

13.4

26.8

24

2

$438,458

$222,589

$86,000

$42,800

Chicago, IL

4.2

10.2

91

48

$486,310

$197,020

$95,000

$39,000

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

4.4

9.6

90

54

$440,698

$205,047

$87,800

$40,000

Philadelphia, PA

4.2

10.9

92

44

$491,885

$193,877

$99,000

$38,000

Houston, TX

4.0

8.8

91

58

$438,272

$197,571

$85,000

$39,000

Washington, DC

5.8

12.4

82

34

$652,892

$303,901

$ 129,000

$60,000

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL

6.6

13.9

73

31

$361,991

$172,508

$71,000

$33,700

Atlanta, GA

3.8

8.3

90

60

$440,196

$205,081

$87,000

$40,000

Boston, MA

6.8

17.6

74

10

$587,535

$228,239

$ 116,000

$45,200

San Francisco, CA

12.6

27.8

33

2

$656,277

$286,329

$ 128,000

$58,000

Detroit, MI

3.0

8.0

96

60

$453,958

$164,167

$87,400

$32,300

Riverside, CA

8.6

17.5

65

11

$367,681

$177,581

$72,300

$35,300

Phoenix, AZ

5.7

11.7

84

38

$393,648

$194,090

$77,500

$38,000

Seattle, WA

7.6

17.1

68

12

$529,317

$234,656

$ 103,200

$46,000

Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

4.6

11.1

93

39

$512,526

$209,175

$ 100,000

$41,000

San Diego, CA

11.0

22.2

40

3

$471,840

$234,123

$93,000

$46,100

St. Louis, MO

3.3

8.1

95

63

$443,217

$179,537

$88,000

$35,300

Tampa, FL

4.7

10.5

87

45

$360,353

$163,258

$71,000

$32,200

Baltimore, MD

4.6

11.2

91

42

$562,327

$229,242

$ 110,000

$45,000

Denver, CO

7.0

14.5

79

17

$495,133

$238,822

$98,000

$47,000

Pittsburgh, PA

3.1

8.1

96

63

$429,967

$162,840

$83,650

$32,000

Portland, OR

7.6

16.8

73

6

$456,201

$204,963

$89,700

$40,400

Charlotte, NC

4.0

9.5

89

51

$402,000

$172,054

$80,000

$34,000

Sacramento, CA

7.5

17.0

75

8

$459,278

$201,205

$90,000

$40,000

San Antonio, TX

4.0

8.4

93

63

$394,830

$184,231

$76,000

$36,300

Orlando, FL

5.4

10.8

87

43

$350,919

$177,219

$70,000

$35,000

Cincinnati, OH

3.3

8.5

96

61

$443,360

$171,656

$87,000

$33,600

Cleveland, OH

3.1

8.0

96

66

$403,868

$164,204

$81,300

$32,000

Kansas City, MO

3.4

8.2

96

65

$443,150

$187,805

$87,000

$36,650

Las Vegas, NV

5.5

11.4

88

38

$372,010

$182,161

$74,000

$35,800

Columbus, OH

3.6

8.3

95

62

$440,449

$192,054

$85,000

$37,440

Indianapolis, IN

3.1

7.5

96

71

$425,609

$176,828

$83,800

$35,000

San Jose, CA

14.0

30.7

22

1

$693,211

$369,555

$ 136,200

$62,200

Austin, TX

5.1

11.1

87

42

$497,165

$233,188

$99,000

$45,600

[Souce: Zillow®]

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Jeff Sorg is a co-founder of OnlineEd®, a Web-based vocational school founded in 1997 where he also serves as Corporate Secretary, Chief Operating Officer, and School Director. Sorg holds vocational instructor licenses in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada and has authored numerous pre-licensing and continuing education courses. Sorg was awarded the International Distance Education Certification Center’s CDEi Designation for distance education in 2008-2018.

OnlineEd® provides real estate, mortgage broker, insurance, and contractor pre-license, post-license, continuing education, career enhancement, and professional development and designation courses over the Internet.