San Francisco homeowners have nation’s biggest monthly housing costs

High SF incomes mean six other U.S. cities are less affordable

Long Beach knocked San Francisco out of the fifth least-affordable position (iStock)
Long Beach knocked San Francisco out of the fifth least-affordable position (iStock)

San Francisco homeowners pay more per month for housing than in any other U.S. city, according to a new report from RealtyHop. Yet thanks to the tech center’s high incomes, the city became more affordable in December.

Mortgage payments and taxes total about $6,000 on a median-priced $1.325 million San Francisco home, making it the seventh-least-affordable housing market, an improvement from fifth, where it stood for most of the year.

San Francisco’s median income of $112,000 is the third-highest in the 100 metros RealtyHop tracks, according to Census data; households in the South Bay city of Fremont earn the most at $130,000. A buyer earning San Francisco’s median income would spend 64.35 percent of that on a median-priced home.

Buying in the top four least-affordable cities requires more than 80 percent of median incomes. For the sixth month in a row, New York was the least affordable housing market in the United States, with prices up $20,000 since November to a median of $980,000. A family earning the median income would need to contribute 84 percent of it to afford a home in the Big Apple—up 2 percent since last month and nearly 1 percent above second-place Miami. Los Angeles was the third-least-affordable metro, while Newark was fourth.

Long Beach knocked San Francisco out of the fifth least-affordable position, even though its monthly housing costs are about 40 percent lower, because its median income is also about half what households earn in San Francisco.

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“While the price of owning a home is far less than in San Francisco, a family will spend 65.49 percent of their income to own a home” in Long Beach, according to the report.

Housing is considered affordable if monthly costs are about 30 percent of incomes, a ratio that is not possible in many of California’s markets. In recent years, the state has been warring with its cities over building more housing to confront the affordability crisis.

In addition to Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Francisco, median-priced homes in Oakland, San Diego, Irvine, Anaheim, San Jose and Fremont would all cost more than 50 percent of their area’s median household incomes.

Much as the least-affordable cities haven’t changed much this year, the most-affordable cities are also largely set. Wichita, Kansas held on to its most-affordable title for another month in December; with an estimated monthly mortgage and tax payment under $800, it takes only 17.58 percent of the median $53,000 income to buy a median-priced $150,000 home.

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