clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Where can the average San Franciscan still buy a home?

New, 4 comments

Other than Fresno, of course

Home ownership relative to renting is up slightly in San Francisco over recent years, but grabbing the brass ring of a monthly mortgage payment is harder than ever.

The San Francisco Chronicle explored the minimum income you’d need to buy a home (house or condo) in 19 ever-popular neighborhoods. As you’d probably guess, the news wasn’t great, with only four redoubts in the city offering a median home price under $1 million.

So wherecan the average (that is to say, median) San Franciscan earner hope to put down stakes in 2016?

Well, let’s round up some numbers. First, the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership projects a median household income of just over $84,000 in 2016.

Next, while the federal government has long prescribed spending only 30 percent of monthly income on housing, we’re upping that margin to 50 percent today. Because, let’s face it, that’s just more realistic.

So our perfectly median household can probably afford a home in any neighborhood that can extend a monthly mortgage cost of $3,500/month, if belts are tight.

The Chronicle used Trulia data for the last six months to calculate a cost based on a 20 percent down payment, 30-year mortgage, and 3.75 percent interest rate.

The results: Only the Tenderloin and the Bayview manage to be attainable using these figures. Yep, that’s it: Only two neighborhoods are in reach (at median prices, of course), and they’re even the two most usual suspects.

The census does provide us a higher median San Francisco income of more than $88,500/year. But even using that figure isn’t enough to quite afford the average home in the next least expensive neighborhood, the Excelsior. Ouch.

Maybe the dream of a single-family home is just too ambitious in this day and age. What happens if we examine only condo prices?

Prospects get a bit better in that market, if you stretch: Using 2016 condo sales figures from Paragon Real Estate, the same 20/30/3.75 formula from before, and the highest of the available income estimates ($88,500), a few extra neighborhoods come into play.

Namely: The Outer Richmond (but only the outer part), Civic Center, Ingleside Heights, Hunters Point, and Candlestick Point.

(Although in the case of those last two, supply is so small right now that the sample size isn’t great.)

Employing Paragon figures instead of Trulia also opens up potential house sales at median prices in a few extra places: Visitacion Valley, Ocean View, and Silver Terrace.

So in all, there are ten neighborhoods most of us can potentially buy in most of the time...assuming a fairly generous definition of the median wage, decent loan terms, and that we’re willing to commit way more to housing than is usually recommended.

If that doesn’t tell you just how much most people here want to keep living in San Francisco, nothing will.