In San Jose, it takes 182 percent of annual income to cover a 20 percent down payment

What does it take?

If you’re talking about scraping together a 20 percent down payment on a house, and you live in the Bay Area, the answer is “a much larger percentage of your income than you can afford.”

A report from Zillow shows that the San Jose and San Francisco metros are the roughest in the nation for home buyers.

Which you already have heard. Many times.

But did you know that the median value of a house in the United States is $192,500 — which is basically identical to the median 20 percent down payment (of $192,320) for a house in metro San Jose?

Here’s another way to break down the numbers: The average home buyer in the San Jose metro (which includes Santa Clara and San Benito counties) must set aside 182 percent of his or her annual income to assemble the recommended 20 percent down. According to Zillow, the median income in the metro is $105,455; the median 20 percent down payment, as said, is $192,320; and the median home value is $961,600.

In the San Francisco metro (which includes San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties), the situation is similar. The average buyer must set aside 180 percent of annual income to come up with 20 percent down. The median income is $91,777; the median 20 percent down payment is $164,920; and the median home value is $824,600.

Compare that to the nation as a whole: The average American home buyer has to set aside the equivalent of two-thirds of his or her income to make that 20 percent down payment.

Where do buyers put aside the smallest share of income? In Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Kansas City, where 48 percent of annual income covers a 20 percent down payment.

Much of the down payment analysis is derived from the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, which can be found right here. (Income figures come from the U.S. Census, while Zillow has taken median home values from its own Zillow Home Value Index.)

Zillow also reports that 25 percent of first-time home buyers in the U.S. rely on gifts from family and friends to gather enough funds to buy a house. And the report finds that saving for a down payment is the biggest worry of a fifth of all buyers.

“Saving enough cash for a down payment is a major barrier to home ownership, especially in expensive markets, where a 20 percent down payment can cost nearly $200,000,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief marketing officer. “While it’s possible to buy a house with a smaller down payment, 20 percent ensures the best rates. As important as it is to find a monthly payment you can afford, some buyers’ budgets will come down to the amount of cash they can bring to the table.”

Photo: A “sale pending” sign outside a house in Palo Alto. (Paul Sakuma/AP)


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