Mar 13, 2024 - News

It takes 50+ years for a single person to afford a San Diego starter home

Years needed for <span style='text-decoration: underline 3px solid #6533ff;'>couples</span> and <span style='text-decoration: underline 3px solid #ff4e1f;'>individuals</span> to afford a starter home down payment
Data: Point2; Note: Down payment calculated as the minimum amount needed to have an affordable mortgage (<30% of monthly income) for the median-priced starter home in each market, or at least 20% down; Chart: Axios Visuals

Here's one more way to slice San Diego's sky-high housing prices: It takes single people here 55 years to save up for a starter-home down payment — more than four times as long as couples, a new study found.

Why it matters: That makes San Diego the U.S. city with the fifth-biggest difference in what it takes singles versus couples to break into homeownership, based on the study's data from the 100 largest U.S. cities.

State of play: San Diego is among the most expensive cities regardless of relationship status, the Point2 study unsurprisingly found.

  • The 12 cities with the largest gap between singles and couples are all in California.
  • Chula Vista is also among the hardest cities for first-time homebuyers: It takes 22 years for couples to save up enough to buy and 63 years for singles — both in the 10 longest nationally.

By the numbers: The study found couples could sock away enough for a down payment in about 12 years in San Diego, compared to 55 years for singles.

  • That split is driven by the difference in incomes, with the median income for couples ($114,363) more than doubling that of singles ($49,062).

Fine print: Point2 assumed individuals or couples save 20% of their income for a down payment.

  • It defined a "starter home" as one with the median price of the cheapest one-third of listings in the area.
  • In San Diego, that's a $650,725 home (or an ever-so-slightly cheaper $648,584 home in Chula Vista).
  • The study considered the mortgage for which an individual or couple would qualify based on paying 30% of their monthly income, with a payment that included insurance, taxes and a 6.6% mortgage rate.

The big picture: The exercise shows how much location impacts the practicality of buying a home.

  • Cities across the West Coast, along with Boston and New York, reflected improbably long saving timelines.
  • In Midwest cities, couples didn't have nearly as large an advantage over singles.
  • Nationwide, it takes solo buyers 8.4 years to save for a starter home, compared to 2.1 years for couples.
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