Buying a home will take an extra year of saving, study says

By Aysha Diallo | Bloomberg

Would-be homebuyers in the U.S. will have to save up for an extra year before taking the plunge, thanks to pandemic-era price gains.

For the typical American, it would take eight years of stashing away 10% of monthly income to build up enough for a 20% down payment — up from seven years before COVID-19 ignited a homebuying frenzy, according to a study by Tomo, a real estate startup.

For many renters hoping to become buyers, scraping together a down payment has always been a challenge. Now the hurdles have gotten higher as bidding wars for a tight supply of listings push prices even further out of reach. The share of existing home purchases by first-time buyers declined to 29% last month, the lowest level since 2019, the National Association of Realtors said last week.

The people who save for a down payment “are the people who can,” Skylar Olsen, principal economist at Tomo, said in an interview. “Folks who have a lot of rent burdens tend to save nothing, and there’s always a fairly sizable share of the population who have a pretty substantial rent burden.”

The areas with the highest years-to-save timelines are Los Angeles, with 19.2, San Francisco, with 17.9 and San Jose, with 18.2, according to the Tomo study.

In Seattle and New York, it would take 12.3 years and 11.9 years, respectively, to save for a down payment.

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