Tom York on Business: Buyers Must Save 7.5 Years for a Typical San Diego Home

House for sale in La Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

It takes just over 7.5 years to save up for a down payment to purchase a home in the San Diego area, according to a new study from financial information website SmartAsset.

The date for this study comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey, so it may be lagging in terms of what’s happening and doesn’t account for the recent huge run-up in housing prices nationwide, particularly in California.

But it’s interesting, nevertheless.

The study looked at how long it takes to save a down payment for a typical home in 15 of the largest U.S. cities, as well as a wider list of 100 smaller cities. And it assumes that those with an average household after-tax income of $5,000 could save up $18,000 a year.

Over that 7.5-year period, household savers would accumulate $196,000 for a 20% down payment. The period is less — just under four years — to come up with a 10% down payment.

The study assumes that renters can save up to 40% percent of their income after paying taxes and rent. Personally, I think that’s a lot — and unrealistic.

Overall, while Americans coped with money hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, homeownership rates remained robust. And to be sure, one can better achieve homeownership in select smaller U.S. cities than others.

Of the 100 largest metro areas, Fort Wayne, Indiana, ranks as the city with the lowest estimated time to buy a home. The 2018 census data shows that the median household income in Fort Wayne is $48,700.

Households in Columbus, Ohio, which is among the top 15 U.S. cities, have it really easy. They only have to save 2.75 years for a 20% down payment, or 1.5 years for a 10% down payment.

Consumer financial website SmartAsset is a unit of SmartAdvisor, which links consumers to financial advisors.

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And for those who don’t want to buy a home in San Diego?

Everybody knows that Texas has become a magnet for California residents, attracting 82,000 Golden State residents in one year.

With good reason, because homes there are 59% cheaper compared to California, and 14% more spacious.

Well, it appears that San Diego is contributing its fair share of the Lone Star State’s new residents, according to another study from public storage website StorageCafe. Our area is the second largest source in California for those heading to Texas.

San Diego residents who move to Texas are heading to the Fort Worth, San Antonio and Dallas areas, the study found.

More room is one of the big advantages for San Diegans moving to Texas, the report found.

For example, homes in Fort Worth (the No. 1 destination for San Diegans) are 36% larger than homes here.

San Diegans who choose Montgomery County in the Houston area, however, enjoy up to 50% more spacious homes.

The fact that homes are much cheaper is a major driver for the migration to Texas, according to StorageCafe.

Homes in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are 53% less expensive. Bexar County (San Antonio) offers even cheaper homes, 59% larger compared to their California counterparts, according to the study.

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And speaking of savings…Household savings in credit union checking and other accounts across San Diego are hitting record levels, with total amounts jumping 30% from the pre-pandemic second quarter 2019 to the second quarter 2021, according to a media release from the California Credit Union League.

Total deposits made by 1.23 million consumers at 18 local credit unions rose from to $20.7 billion from $15.9 billion from June 2019 to June 2021 — a $4.8 billion increase.

The trend that started in mid-2020 is due to consumers traveling less due to COVID-19 lockdowns and a decrease in purchases because of the pandemic, according to league economist Robert Eyler.

For some workers, continued uncertainty about job stability and the economy’s direction are also fueling this savings tendency, he said

Meanwhile, the increased totals have sandbagged a financial cushion for many workers as the economy suffers “heavy churn, dislocation, repair and renewed hiring needs within the job market…,” according to the study.

* * *

Some nonprofit news…The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation holds Its 15th Annual Kayak Fundraiser Cleanup Event Oct. 30-31. This event lets kayakers enjoy a two-hour outing on the lagoon to help preserve the area by removing trash and debris. In the past, volunteers have collected up to 1,000 pounds of trash.

The price is $65 per personKayaks, safety equipment and water safety guides will be provided. For more information, visit www.batiquitoslagoon.org. 

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The Foundation for Women Warriors says it has received a $20,000 grant from the San Diego Woman’s Club, which will be used to boost its mission of helping women veterans. 

The foundation says that 70% of its veterans are single parents, many without family in the area.

The grant will help the nonprofit respond to the needs of moms and their children, ensuring that a lack of family in the area does not mean a lack of support. 

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In case you missed it…The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board has approved construction work to replace Terminal 1.

 The board has OK’d spending up to $2.6 billion for the project.

Construction could begin next month, according to a news release from the airport authority.

A rendering of the new Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport. Courtesy of the Airport Authority

The release said that when the terminal opened 1967, it served 2.5 million passengers in the first year. In 2019, the terminal handled more than 12 million passengers.

 The new terminal will boast 30 gates with 19 expected to be up and running in mid-2025. The remaining 11 gates are expected to be ready by June 2028. 

 The release said the project would create between 15,000 to 20,000 jobs, with 25% going to small business enterprises, 80% to local businesses and 3% to veteran-owned small businesses. 

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.

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