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You Must Make $144,000 a Year to Buy Most San Francisco Homes

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Before taxes, that is

The salary before taxes you would need to buy a house in San Francisco at median prices declined 2.5 percent since the end of last year (about $3,800), bringing the recommended annual salary for homebuyers in the city to only $144,196, according to the mortgage firm HSH.

We don’t even need to tell you that that’s the highest in the nation, as it has been the last 13 times HSH has conducted its quarterly survey of mortgage affordability (or the lack thereof). That’s at least a somewhat lucky number, because after all, cheaper is still cheaper, but the $144K figure is still 27 percent higher than even the next most expensive city, San Diego.

The median salary in the city is around $84,000. According to PayScale, even a software engineer at Salesforce (top salary: $137,000) can’t afford a San Francisco house, at least by HSH standards. Neither can a senior researcher at Genentech ($113,793), or a senior engineer at Oracle ($139,000), or even at Uber ($143,955).

Meanwhile, that same Uber engineer could buy almost two median-priced homes in Seattle (recommended salary: $77,529), sometimes touted as the new San Francisco in terms of out-of-control housing market. Or two houses and a condo in Chicago ($57,168). Or three houses in Orlando ($47,665), or nearly five houses in HSH’s cheapest city, Pittsburgh, where the firm recommends you can afford a median-priced home on less than $30,000 a year.

Actually, you can get a house for as cheap as $2,000 (!) in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods. An Uber engineer could spend his entire year’s salary (before bonus) to buy the 17 cheapest houses listed in that city right now.

And the 46 Uber engineers in San Francisco listed on Glassdoor could buy nearly 0.5 percent of the entire housing stock of Pittsburgh between them (736 out of about 156,000 residential units) at the same rates with their median overall pay of $130,000 each, but would have a hard time buying even one house apiece here.

Of course, a lot of those engineers are buying homes anyway, either by using bonuses on top of their base salary, by making a bit more than Payscale or Glassdoor think they do, or (perhaps the most likely suspect) simply buying houses at rates they can’t really afford.

Mortgage rates fell in all 27 of the cities HSH surveyed, except for San Diego. The survey assumes 20 percent down and a 30 year fixed mortgage.