Last week, rental site Zumper projected that only 40 percent of people in San Francisco can really afford to buy a home in the city. At the time, we noted that even that seemingly dismal number is actually incredibly optimistic: The California Association of Realtors previously projected a figure of 11 percent.
But that was back at the beginning of the year, when the present period of quiet in the housing market had not yet settled in. Now that most of the year has gone by without any of the geyser-like eruptions in home prices or values, perhaps our lot has improved?
And indeed, CAR’s Q2 report reveals that, indeed, it has. The realtors’ present projection is that we’ve risen to 13 percent. Great.
That’s based on a median home price of $1.375 million, which comes out to a monthly mortgage payment of $6,740/month after fees and taxes. To hold that payment to roughly a third of your monthly income, you’d need to drum up a household income of (wait for it) $269,601/year.
That’s a lot.
As always, caveats: "Median price" means that about half of all homes cost less than said price. And, while it’s not exactly a recipe for security, plenty of households spend more than the prescribed 30 to 33 percent of their take home pay on housing, especially in San Francisco.
So the path to home ownership is not quite so narrow as CAR might suggest. Still, it’s a downright harrowing statistic, even in the proper context.
But speaking of context, maybe the question we should be asking is how much better or worse would one expect that figure to be? After all, San Francisco’s reputation for monstrous housing did not start in 2011. To scratch that particular itch, real estate group Paragon glanced back at similar statistics going back to 1991.
Things have often been better than they are now, but they’ve never been what you would call good. Comparing Q1 figures for the past 25 years, we see that the city has only ever broken the 25 percent margin on affordability four times.
And while most previous Q1s compare favorably to our present Q1 and Q2 figures, this is not yet the worst it’s ever been. That honor goes to Q3 2007, the peak of the previous cycle, in which a mere eight percent of San Francisco households could have cleared CAR’s lofty bar for who can really afford a home.
That stat shot as high as 30 percent in 2012, but then of course immediately began crashing down to the levels we see now.
Nationwide, the present affordability index is about 57 percent. For California, however, it’s a mere 31 percent. Only two Bay Area counties break the California average: Contra Costa (32 percent) and Solano (45 percent). San Mateo County manages to be just a hair more affordable than the city, with a 14 percent rating.
- Q2 Affordability Rating [CAR]
- SF Bay Area Affordability [Paragon]
- How Many San Franciscan’s Can Afford a Home? [Curbed SF]