According to a study by Apartment List, twenty- and thirty-somethings in San Francisco will have to spend nearly 28 years saving up for a down payment on their first home, which is longer than most of them have been alive.
Start saving today and by the time you ink your first mortgage in the far-flung future of 2044, ink will have gone out of style in favor of signing documents via telepathy or just clicking on them with your robot hands.
Of the 30,000 surveyed, 79 percent of young renters in the U.S. say they eventually plan to buy a home (only six percent plan to be eternal renters, with the remainder unsure), and 73 percent of those plan to make their first purchase in the next five years.
But a lot depends on where they plan on putting down roots. To the surprise of no one at all, San Francisco has the highest entry barrier for first-time home buyers, with an average down payment of nearly $143,000, as Apartment List reckons it. But the renters surveyed speculated that they would need less than half of that, predicting a down payment of about $70,000, which is less than seven percent of the average price of a home in the city today.
What in the world are they thinking? Well, the thing is, $70,000 would be enough to start buying a home anywhere else in America; the next most expensive cities on the Apartment List chart are LA, at under $66,000, and San Diego, at a bit over $65,000. No other city even comes close. Seventy grand is an objectively large sum of money, it’s just no match for the impervious beast that is San Francisco’s present housing market.
Even worse, when asked about their finances and how much they're saving each month, the average would-be San Francisco buyer in the relevant age bracket would need 27.8 years to save up that kind of dough. Sacramento is second place (26.9 years), and LA is third (20 even).
(Incidentally, most millennials in Detroit already have enough for the $3,590 down payment they’d need, but apparently don’t know it.)
Of course, those numbers are more statistical curiosity than practical prediction, since nobody knows what the housing market, economy, or value of the dollar will be like in 28 years. But even if the numbers can’t tell us the future, they’ve probably already told us more about the present than most really care to know.