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How many San Franciscans can afford to buy a home?

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Zumper guesses 40 percent, but that may even be generous

San Francisco has always been a city of renters, and it looks as if it’s going to stay that way. Although home ownership is up a bit in recent years, most San Franciscans simply can’t afford to put money down at these prices.

In a recent survey, the apartment site Zumper found that although 90 percent of people in San Francisco aspire to home ownership, only 40 percent are presently bringing in enough money for it. This just after a Bloomberg study dubbed San Francisco the fourth least affordable city in the US.

By Bloomberg’s reckoning, you should be making an estimated $114,000/year to ensure that your monthly payments don’t exceed the time honored (if highly unrealistic) federal guideline suggesting that people should pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly income to housing. But the average San Francisco household (ages 25-44) only brings in about $100,000.

And of course, if you factor in everyone else outside of that central, relatively young demographic, the city’s median wage dips even lower. Back in January, the city estimated median wages at just over $84,000/year. Which is quite a bit of money, but still not yet enough to buy.

Zumper’s 40 percent figure is actually a rosy one compared to similar studies. Back in February, for example, the California Association of Realtors concluded that only a spare 11 percent of San Franciscans can really afford the purchase of a home.

Even the tech set, whose fat salaries usually get the blame (fairly or not, depending on the individual and your point of view) for the rising tide, aren’t always in much better shape on their mortgage. Before taxes, software developers at companies like Airbnb, Slack, and Zynga make up to $130,000.

Incredible money, of course, and enough to satisfy Bloomberg. But mortgage site HSH‘s more exacting standards suggest you should really be bringing home at least $144,000 annually before you consider buying in.

Of course, it’s no secret that San Francisco is expensive, so what do all of these numbers matter? Well, a whole lot of houses are being sold, despite the fact that most of us aren’t even close to being able to afford them.

This suggests that either the ultra-rich are the only ones getting a piece of San Francisco these days, or that most buyers are committing to way more on a mortgage than is probably feasible for them…or both.

You can decide for yourselves which possibility is the most disconcerting.