For homebuyers—especially first-time ones—what looms larger and scarier than the prospect of pulling together enough cash for a down payment? A late-stage IRS audit, maybe? A bracing swim in gulper eel–infested waters?
All wrong! The answer is nothing. For more and more Americans, the down payment has become the Everest-size mountain they need to climb to reach their dreams of homeownership—or perhaps freeze to death trying. In these days of rising home prices, it seems harder than ever to pull together that mammoth mound of moolah needed to get yourself into a new place. It can lead to desperation. Will you need to resign yourself to a lifetime of living with your parents, renting cramped apartments, or settling for the boondocks of Alaska (where you might be able to afford your own cabin sans running water)?
Actually, there is something else you can do: Whip out a calculator and start budgeting. That big lump sum you’re stressing over is a lot less intimidating when you break it down into daily payments. We can help!
The thrifty data team at realtor.com® crunched the numbers for America’s 15 largest urban areas to figure out just how much buyers need to save per day to eventually purchase a home of their own. Here’s how we did it:
- We looked at the median home listing price in May for the country’s 15 biggest metropolitan areas and the average percentage that buyers in those areas put down on a home. Using those figures, we calculated the typical down payment for each of those cities.
- Next, we figured out how much potential buyers need to save each day toward a down payment, over five- and 10-year timelines, to reach their goal. (We’re making the big assumption that home prices and down payment percentages remain unchanged over that time.)
We know saving is tough. But it’s also necessary—and not just for the initial costs.
“If you haven’t been able to save up enough for a significant down payment, your saving skills may not be up to the task of paying the monthly mortgage, your insurance, your property taxes, maintenance [costs], and what we like to call your emergency fund for emergency repairs,” says Michael Corbett, the TV host of Extra’s “Mansions and Millionaires” and author of “Ready, Set, Sold!” Thanks for the pep talk, Mike!
He recommends aspiring homeowners earmark their tax refunds and annual bonuses for their down payment. They can take a part-time job on the weekends or do a little consulting work to sock away those extra shekels.
“All of this only helps you toward homeownership if you put that money away,” Corbett says. “A lot of people say, ‘I’m not going to go to Starbucks anymore,’ but they don’t take that $5 or $6 per latte and actually save it.” Hey, do you really need to drink 15 of those things a day, anyway? We thought not.
So let’s take a cross-country jaunt and start saving!
1. New York City, N.Y.
Median home price: $413,900
Average down payment: 17.2% ($71,191 on a median-priced home)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $38.99
Daily saving goal (10 years): $19.49
Prices in the City That Never Sleeps may make homeowner hopefuls want to pack up and head for cheaper parts of the country. But you’d miss out on the world-class theater, museums, restaurants, and endless career opportunities.
The median sale price for those dreaming of a Manhattan address hit a record high of about $1.1 million in the second quarter of 2016, according to the most recent Elliman report. But those willing to buy in the city’s other boroughs—even hipster Brooklyn—as well as surrounding burbs can save bundles.
2. Los Angeles, Calif.
Median home price: $678,000
Average down payment: 18.3% ($124,074)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $67.95
Daily saving goal (10 years): $33.97
It may feel like you need the salary of a movie star or, at the very least, a Flo-from-Progressive-level commercial actress to afford your own digs in Los Angeles. But fortunately for those not being stalked by the paparazzi, a recent report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. projects that key employment sectors will add thousands of jobs in the next two years: health care; construction; and professional, scientific, and technical services. And there’s even a booming neighborhood where tech startups and outposts of companies like Google and Yahoo are clustered—it’s known as Silicon Beach.
3. Chicago, Ill.
Median home price: $264,900
Average down payment: 13.4% ($35,496.60)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $19.44
Daily saving goal (10 years): $9.72
Homes have been flying off the market in this Midwestern metropolis, with prices steadily climbing to about 5 percent higher in May than they were a year earlier, according to a recent report. And why wouldn’t they? A (relatively) laid-back alternative to the coastal cities, Chicago boasts pioneering theater companies, 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, and an increasingly vibrant music scene. It’s the future home of the Obama Presidential Center. And while winters can be rough, come spring Chicagoans enjoy 8,100 acres of parkland—not to mention 26 miles of public beaches.
But the secret is out: A recent analysis by realtor.com found that the downtown Loop neighborhood is one of the top 10 neighborhoods in the country for job growth, which is fueling household formation and new construction.
4. Dallas, Texas
Median home price: $333,400
Average down payment: 13.6% ($45,342.40)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $24.83
Although Dallas is in the middle of oil country, the slump in the price of crude doesn’t seem to be hurting its real estate market—at least, not yet. Home values rose 9.3 percent year over year in May, whereas the national rate was 5.9 percent, according to a recent CoreLogic report.
That makes sense as the population of the city has been growing as well (4.1 percent from July 2010 through July 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), helped, no doubt, by the lower cost of living. Major companies are moving in, including Toyota, which is moving its North America headquarters from California to just outside Dallas, in Plano. The suburban city will also be home to the new regional headquarters of Fannie Mae.
5. Houston, Texas
Average down payment: 12.7% ($42,532.30)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $23.29
Daily saving goal (10 years): $11.65
Houston’s real estate market, on the other hand, got hit much harder by the turmoil in the oil industry. But the number of homes sold began to climb again in May, although year-over-year prices bucked the national trend by staying flat, according to the Houston Association of REALTORS®.
Still, the city isn’t all about oil—it’s also home to 26 Fortune 500 companies, and a realtor.com analysis last year found it was one of the top U.S. cities drawing millennial would-be home buyers.
6. Philadelphia, Pa.
Median home price: $235,000
Average down payment: 12.1% ($28,435)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $15.57
Daily saving goal (10 years): $7.79
Buying a home in the City of Brotherly Love is more affordable than in many of the other big Northeastern cities on this list, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t look like it will stay that way for long. Like the rest of the country, property prices are steadily rising.
They jumped nearly 22 percent this year alone, Kevin Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The average Philadelphia home has achieved a new all-time high in value,” Gillen told the paper. But rest assured: It won’t approach New York levels anytime soon.
7. Washington, DC
Median home price: $439,900
Average down payment: 12.6% ($55,427.40)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $30.35
Daily saving goal (10 years): $15.18
Prices haven’t been rising quite so high in the nation’s capital as of late, and that has a lot to do with the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election, say local real estate agents. After all, whoever wins the Oval Office will determine who is placed in more than a few jobs in the city.
That’s a big reason why prices rose just 2.1 percent annually in the area in May. And by the time many aspiring homeowners save up that down payment and purchase a home, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump might be gunning for a second term—and who knows what sort of impact that will have on real estate values!
8. Miami, Fla.
Median home price: $350,000
Average down payment: 14.1% ($49,349.99)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $27.03
Miami is known for its nonstop nightlife and Latin culture—the 2010 U.S. Census counted 70 percent of its residents as Hispanic. Located at the tip of the continental U.S., it’s no surprise that it’s known as the Gateway to the Americas, drawing people from across Latin America. The recent restoration of diplomatic ties—and soon, commercial flights—with nearby Cuba is sure to make its impact felt on the place many still call the Magic City.
But the number of sales here dropped about 10.4 percent annually in May, according to data from the Miami Association of REALTORS® provided to The Miami Herald.
Meanwhile, prices shot up as a strong dollar discouraged foreign buyers from snapping up those luxury condos at the same time that there are fewer foreclosures for investors and flippers to snap up, according to the Herald.
9. Atlanta, Ga.
Median home price: $269,900
Average down payment: 10% ($26,990)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $14.78
Daily saving goal (10 years): $7.39
Putting down roots in Atlanta, with its lower cost of living, burgeoning film industry, and usually pleasant weather, is still relatively affordable. But it may not stay that way for much longer.
The cost of purchasing a residence jumped 6.5 percent in April from a year earlier, above the national average, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report. That’s largely due to the lack of properties on the market at a time when more companies are moving down to the area, bringing a new crop of future Atlantans with them.
10. Boston, Mass.
Median home price: $449,900
Average down payment: 16.4% ($73,783.59)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $40.41
Home prices are steadily rising in the birthplace of the American Revolution—at the annual rate of about 5.7 percent in April compared with the same time a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report. That puts it right around the national average.
But hold on: Standard & Poor’s predicted in January that Boston home values will jump 24 percent by 2020! While the situation isn’t quite as bad as taxation without representation, lovers of the home of the Red Sox, The Pixies, The Freedom Trail, and Revere Beach, the country’s first public coastline park, should probably get a head start on saving as soon as possible.
11. San Francisco, Calif.
Median home price: $875,000
Average down payment: 21.8% ($190,750)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $104.46
Daily saving goal (10 years): $52.23
Holy moly! There’s no easy way to say this: Buying an abode in San Francisco ain’t cheap, so if you’re not well-off, you’d better start playing the lottery now. Some good news: While it remains one of the hottest real estate markets in the U.S., in June we started to see higher-priced homes flying off the market just a wee bit slower than before—perhaps a sign that the tide is finally turning.
Still, buyers shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for prices to soften on the city’s “affordable” residences. It might be a better plan to work on creating the next Snapchat. How hard could it be?
12. Detroit, Mich.
Median home price: $200,000
Average down payment: 12% ($24,000)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $13.14
Daily saving goal (10 years): $6.57
Buying a home in the former automotive manufacturing hub won’t set buyers back too much these days. Also, according to our calculations, it’s one of the U.S. cities where you can pay your mortgage off the fastest. Even so, interested buyers might want to get moving sooner rather than later.
In recent years, Detroit has been experiencing a resurgence as more startups, shops, and restaurants are moving in. That’s likely to lead to higher prices, so cash-strapped buyers should buy a home while they still can.
13. Phoenix, Ariz.
Median home price: $309,000
Average down payment: 11.9% ($36,771)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $20.14
Daily saving goal (10 years): $10.07
Plenty of buyers may still be able to swing the home prices in Arizona’s capital area, but they are going up—prices rose about 5.5 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report.
Still, you’ll get more bounce for the ounce than elsewhere. Our analysis found that Phoenix-area municipalities of Gilbert, Chandler, and Scottsdale offer some of the largest homes in America, and they’re likely to be relatively new construction as well. Speaking of Gilbert, it also made our list of boom towns with notable job growth, while Chandler is home to the satellite offices of several major tech companies.
14. Seattle, Wash.
Median home price: $445,000
Average down payment: 13.3% ($59,185)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $32.41
Daily saving goal (10 years): $16.21
Home prices here have been rising far faster than the national average. Seattle prices shot up 10.7 percent in April compared to the same time a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report.
Bidding wars have also been driving up the cost of homeownership, as about three-quarters of Seattle-area residences have been receiving multiple offers, according to a recent Seattle Times article. In a testament to how crazy it’s become, last month, more than 100 people were lined up, some of them having slept there overnight, to plunk down deposits on condos that haven’t even broken ground yet, according to the Times.
15. Minneapolis, Minn.
Median home price: $294,000
Average down payment: 11.2% ($32,928)
Daily saving goal (5 years): $18.03
Daily saving goal (10 years): $9.02
Even in the reasonably priced twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, prices rose 5.7 percent year over year in May—hitting their highest levels since well before the housing bubble burst in June 2006, according to the latest Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® report. And they can only be expected to keep on climbing.
This post was originally published on REALTOR.com.