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Twenty percent of San Francisco, Oakland millennials somehow own a home

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One of the lowest rates in the country, but ironically impressive in context

An aerial photo of downtown San Francisco. Rachid Jalayanadeja

The apartment site Abodo released a study today clocking precisely how many people born between 1982 and 1999 own homes in major American cities.

Unsurprisingly, San Francisco came in the bottom ten in this category nationwide, with only 20.5 percent of 18-35 year old San Franciscans holding a deed. The national average is 31.2 percent.

That puts SF (which in the census also includes Oakland and Hayward) at 130th place nationwide; only San Jose, New York City, Honolulu, San Diego, and Los Angeles have lower rates.

“When compared to cities of similar size—the largest cities in the country—San Francisco ranks 41 out of 45,” Abodo spokesperson Sam Radbil added.

Despite the poor showing, it might be impressive in a cosmically ironic way that even that many local youngsters have managed to secure a mortgage. Bloomberg reported in May that the average SF home costs between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, depending on the estimate.

Which is probably why Abodo also estimates that at their average regional income it would take most younger San Franciscans 28.7 years to save up for a down payment, the second worst figure in the country, behind only LA.

To crunch the numbers, Abodo “analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 American Community Survey” using “one-year estimates on tenure by age of householder.”

Note that 2015 is the most recently available census data, with 2016 numbers not yet released.

The larger question of whether and why millennials are really buying fewer homes remains murky. The National Association of Realtors claimed in 2015 that the average age of a first-time homebuyer has been mostly flat for generations; in 1970 it was 30.6, and more recently it’s 31.

In 2014, the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers confirmed that “millennials are less likely to be homeowners” than previous generations.

However, the council also pointed out that several consecutive generations of Americans have been less likely and able to buy homes than their parents, with today’s youngsters just the latest to hit that particularly snag.

“The lower likelihood of homeownership among Millennials today is largely in line with longstanding declines [...] among young people,” according to the White House report, which pointed the finger at increased college enrollment, longer waits before first marriages, and “shifts in labor force participation.”