Jul 6, 2023 - Real Estate

It takes over a decade to save for a home in Portland

Average years it takes a household to afford a mortgage down payment, by state
Data: Zillow Economic Research; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

A typical Oregonian has to save for 11 years to stash enough money for a 10% down payment on a home, according to Zillow research done in May.

Zoom in: If you're buying in Portland, that increases to 12.7 years.

  • In our closest big city, Seattle, it takes 13.3 years.

Why it matters: Affordability could be a "major driver of cross-country moves" as buyers seek a lifestyle within their means, Zillow economists tell Axios.

By the numbers: The research assumes a Portland home price of $550,800, and saving 5% of the median household income each month.

  • In the Portland area, the median household annual income is $87,000, per Zillow.
  • That translates to saving $363 each month.

Zoom out: It takes longer in Oregon to save for a down payment than the national average of 8.9 years.

  • Yes, but: It takes even longer in Washington, California and Montana.
  • In Midwestern states, saving for a down payment takes the least amount of time, while Hawaii tops the list at more than 18 years.

The big picture: Saving enough for a down payment is the biggest barrier to becoming a homeowner, says Brandi Snowden, a director at the National Association of Realtors.

  • Many would-be buyers are saddled with debt, including student loans, car loans and credit card debt.
  • But the national median down payments fell earlier this year as interest rates crept up, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

The intrigue: 29% of Portland area home sales were made in cash in April as the share of U.S. cash buyers reached a nine-year high, recent data from the real estate company Redfin shows.

Between the lines: The share of first-time buyers in the U.S. has shrunk to a record low as inventory and affordability issues persist, according to the National Association of Realtors.

  • First-timers are also waiting longer to buy; the median first-time buyer age jumped from 33 to 36 from 2021 to 2022, the latest data shows.

Of note: A majority of Americans said in May it was the worst time ever to buy a house.

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