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How Long Does It Take for a Single Homebuyer to Save for a Down Payment?

Feb 12, 2018 3:49:38 PM

11 years!

  • Saving for a down payment on the median U.S home takes six years longer for a single person than a couple, according to a new Zillow analysis.
  • Less than half of all U.S. homes are affordable for a single homebuyer.
  • A single buyer can afford a home up to $176,100, less than the national median home value.
  • A married or partnered couple could afford a home worth more than twice as much as a home a single homebuyer could afford.

In today's highly competitive housing market, finding an affordable home can feel increasingly out of reach, especially for singles.

A single homebuyer would need to save for nearly 11 years to reach a 20 percent down payment on the typical U.S. home, according to a new Zillow® analysis. However, for married or partnered couples, it would take less than five years. In San Jose, California, a single buyer would need more than 30 years to save for a down payment – longer than the lifespan of a typical home loan.

Zillow's analysis combined home values and income data from Census to estimate how long it would take for both an individual and couple to save for a 20 percent down payment on the median-priced home, assuming they saved 10 percent of their income every year.

Single buyers typically have a smaller budget than couples, which leaves them with fewer homes to choose from and limits them to the most in-demand portion of the housing stock. The number of homes for sale is limited across the country, down nearly 11 percent over the past year, and nearly 18 percent for the least expensive homes. A single person could afford to buy less than half (45 percent) of the U.S. housing stock, compared to a married or partnered couple, who could afford 82 percent of all homes.

down payment

"Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that buying a home is a central part of living the American Dream, but for unmarried or un-partnered Americans, that dream is increasingly out of reach," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. "Single buyers typically have more limited budgets, which means they are likely competing for lower-priced homes that are in high demand. Having two incomes allows buyers to compete in higher priced tiers where competition is not as stiff."

The difference between what a single person could afford compared to a couple is greatest in Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento, California. In Portland, 73 percent of homes are affordable to a couple, but only 6 percent are affordable to a single buyer. For Sacramento buyers, a couple could afford 75 percent of homes while a single homebuyer could afford 8 percent of homes.

Single buyers will have it easiest in Indianapolis, where saving for a down payment takes less than eight years, and they can afford the highest share of homes among the largest American housing markets.

  Years to Save for a
Down Payment
Percent of Housing
Stock Affordable
Maximum Value of
Affordable Home
Median Household
Income
Metropolitan Area  Married /
Partnered
 Single  Married /
Partnered
 Single  Married /
Partnered
 Single  Married /
Partnered
 Single
United States 4.6 10.8 82 45 $412,736 $176,098 $80,800 $34,500
New York-Northern New Jersey 7.5 18.8 64 10 $521,518 $208,055 $ 103,000 $41,200
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 13.4 26.8 24 2 $438,458 $222,589 $86,000 $42,800
Chicago, IL 4.2 10.2 91 48 $486,310 $197,020 $95,000 $39,000
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 4.4 9.6 90 54 $440,698 $205,047 $87,800 $40,000
Philadelphia, PA 4.2 10.9 92 44 $491,885 $193,877 $99,000 $38,000
Houston, TX 4.0 8.8 91 58 $438,272 $197,571 $85,000 $39,000
Washington, DC 5.8 12.4 82 34 $652,892 $303,901 $ 129,000 $60,000
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 6.6 13.9 73 31 $361,991 $172,508 $71,000 $33,700
Atlanta, GA 3.8 8.3 90 60 $440,196 $205,081 $87,000 $40,000
Boston, MA 6.8 17.6 74 10 $587,535 $228,239 $ 116,000 $45,200
San Francisco, CA 12.6 27.8 33 2 $656,277 $286,329 $ 128,000 $58,000
Detroit, MI 3.0 8.0 96 60 $453,958 $164,167 $87,400 $32,300
Riverside, CA 8.6 17.5 65 11 $367,681 $177,581 $72,300 $35,300
Phoenix, AZ 5.7 11.7 84 38 $393,648 $194,090 $77,500 $38,000
Seattle, WA 7.6 17.1 68 12 $529,317 $234,656 $ 103,200 $46,000
Minneapolis-St Paul, MN 4.6 11.1 93 39 $512,526 $209,175 $ 100,000 $41,000
San Diego, CA 11.0 22.2 40 3 $471,840 $234,123 $93,000 $46,100
St. Louis, MO 3.3 8.1 95 63 $443,217 $179,537 $88,000 $35,300
Tampa, FL 4.7 10.5 87 45 $360,353 $163,258 $71,000 $32,200
Baltimore, MD 4.6 11.2 91 42 $562,327 $229,242 $ 110,000 $45,000
Denver, CO 7.0 14.5 79 17 $495,133 $238,822 $98,000 $47,000
Pittsburgh, PA 3.1 8.1 96 63 $429,967 $162,840 $83,650 $32,000
Portland, OR 7.6 16.8 73 6 $456,201 $204,963 $89,700 $40,400
Charlotte, NC 4.0 9.5 89 51 $402,000 $172,054 $80,000 $34,000
Sacramento, CA 7.5 17.0 75 8 $459,278 $201,205 $90,000 $40,000
San Antonio, TX 4.0 8.4 93 63 $394,830 $184,231 $76,000 $36,300
Orlando, FL 5.4 10.8 87 43 $350,919 $177,219 $70,000 $35,000
Cincinnati, OH 3.3 8.5 96 61 $443,360 $171,656 $87,000 $33,600
Cleveland, OH 3.1 8.0 96 66 $403,868 $164,204 $81,300 $32,000
Kansas City, MO 3.4 8.2 96 65 $443,150 $187,805 $87,000 $36,650
Las Vegas, NV 5.5 11.4 88 38 $372,010 $182,161 $74,000 $35,800
Columbus, OH 3.6 8.3 95 62 $440,449 $192,054 $85,000 $37,440
Indianapolis, IN 3.1 7.5 96 71 $425,609 $176,828 $83,800 $35,000
San Jose, CA 14.0 30.7 22 1 $693,211 $369,555 $ 136,200 $62,200
Austin, TX 5.1 11.1 87 42 $497,165 $233,188 $99,000 $45,600

Source: Zillow

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