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Saving down payment takes several years in Central Valley

Saving down payment takes several years in Central Valley

By Ron Trujillo/

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest challenge for consumers looking to purchase a home.

And with California’s lack of affordable housing – fewer than 30% of consumers could afford the median-priced home during fourth-quarter 2017 – and fast-rising home prices, the down payment is hard to reach for many households.

But where is penny-pinching and saving the most difficult in the state? The Bay Area or perhaps Southern California?


The biggest challenge for the down payment is based more on annual income rather than home price, according to a recent Zillow report.

Central Valley couples take time to save

Married couples in the Central Valley, from Bakersfield to Merced, took several years to save for the dream of homeownership.

In fact, the average married couple in Merced would take 6.8 years to save for a 20% down payment. That’s the second-longest period in the nation, behind Eugene, Ore.

Fresno (6.4 years) and Visalia (6.1 years) finished as the third- and fifth-worst markets in the nation for married couples saving for the down payment.

Bakersfield finished as the eighth-longest period for a 20% down payment, at 5.7 years.

All four cities in the Central Valley are among the most affordable markets in the state, with median-home prices of less than $260,000 in January — or less than half the median home-price in the state, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Single consumers looking to buy a home would take more than twice as long to save money for the down payment.

Zillow based findings on average household income and couples setting aside 10% every year for the down payment.

Now, consumers could buy homes with down payments of less than 20%, including as little as 3% for Federal Housing Administration loans. However, homeowners would need to pay mortgage insurance, which increases the cost of the loan.

Feature photo of downtown Fresno by Turungato/Shutterstock


2 cities prime for a bubble to burst?

Home prices are climbing faster than pay increases, and that could hurt two of the strongest housing markets in the state, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.

The Sacramento region, including nearby Placer County, is the fourth-riskiest market for a housing collapse, with an 8% difference between home price increases vs. pay gains.

San Francisco-Oakland ranked as the sixth-riskiest market, with a 6.5% difference between home and income increases, according to the report.

San Antonio, Texas, is the most at-risk market, with a 14% difference between home increases and pay gains.

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