San Diegans shell out 39.6 percent of income to mortgage

Third-highest percentage of income in U.S.

Buying a home in California coastal metropolitan areas takes twice the percentage of median income as in the United States overall, according to a new study by Zillow, the real estate statistical compiler.

In the first quarter of this year, paying the monthly mortgage for a home in San Diego County required 39.6 percent of household income, says Zillow.

By comparison, Americans overall only shelled out 20 percent of income to pay the monthly mortgage.

San Diego came in third among the 35 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Los Angeles topped the list at 46.8 percent, San Francisco was second at 40.2 percent and San Jose, the center of Silicon Valley, was barely below San Diego at 39.3 percent. These coastal California percentages were up about 3 to 10 points from the 1985-2000 years.


First Quarter, 2017

  • United States 20%
  • Los Angeles metro 46.8%
  • San Francisco metro 40.2%
  • San Diego metro 39.6%
  • San Jose metro 39.3%

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Don is that 39% of gross income or net? Does it include taxes and insurance? The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,200. Considering that most who rent can not afford a home that would mean that a greater percentage of their income goes to rent. A full time Walmart employee making $11 an hour would gross $1900 a month. They could not afford anything but a room let alone a studio apartment. Anyone working in the hotel/restaurant/retail industry by the hour is living well below the poverty line. The taxpayers are subsidizing the profits of those businesses by providing housing, food and medical care.

AlexClarke: Zillow hasn't yet responded to your questions. As soon as it does, I will post the info. Best, Don Bauder

I have given up trying to explain to my own satisfaction why San Diego home prices are so high and why folks living here are willing to spend so much to own those homes. Right at this time, the high percentages of income going into housing in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco can be explained. The job market for tech and for the social media operations is white hot. That is centered on the peninsula, and yet those cities aren't accommodating housing needs at all. There's little growth in the supply, and that suits the existing homeowners just fine. Almost any respectable tract house in Palo Alto will command $1 million. With no other places to go, the workers head south to Silicon Valley or north to San Francisco.

But LA? LA??? People live there because the jobs are there, and they have to live somewhere close. But pushing up the prices and the percentage of household income past 40% for homes in that undesirable place is just nuts. The others listed have something going for them in ambience, lifestyle, or career satisfaction. IMHO LA has none of those things going for it.

Visduh: Household incomes are much higher in Silicon Valley and San Francisco; that helps drive home prices up, along with low supply. San Diego is a very desirable place to live, but not a great place to find a job. New homes are not being added to the market at an adequate rate. Another problem is homes being bought but only rented out to tourists, Best, Don Bauder

Oppenheim: The low interest rates permit people to buy and finance (or build) homes in San Diego. But the home building rates are too slow, partly because of bureaucratic restrictions, and partly the high expense of land, among other reasons. Don't forget an important reasons: too many homes are rented out to vacationers and spent much time empty. Best, Don Bauder

There's another phenomenon in San Diego, that of the "second" home, which can be the third, fourth, or fifth home for certain very rich and plutocratic people. Those homes are often some of the grandest homes, yet sit empty for much of the time, too. The top end is then out of reach for many of the most affluent local residents who are forced down the ladder, and who bid up the prices. The process works its way down the scale, all the way to the bottom. There are other factors, such as the one you mention, aided and abetted by Air bnb.

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