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Buying a home is a quintessentially American rite of passage. But depending on where that home is located, the time and money required to save for it can vary widely.

Homebuyers on the West and East Coast, for instance, often have to save up three to four times as long as homebuyers in the South and Midwest in order to be able to afford to pay a 20 percent down payment on a home, according to a new study from RealtyHop.

Out of the 150 most populous cities in the U.S., homebuyers in Glendale, California, spend the longest amount of time saving up for a down payment, based on the city’s median household income, the city’s median home list price, the assumption that buyers will stash away 20 percent of their income per year, and that they’ll pay a 20 percent down payment.

Based on Glendale’s median list price of $1.125 million, buyers in the area, where the median household income is $74,488, must spend 15.1 years saving up for that 20 percent down payment.

Credit: RealtyHop

Other cities where high home prices cause homebuyers with a median income for the area to save up for more than 10 years for that 20 percent down payment include Los Angeles (13.5 years); New York City (12.5 years); Miami (12.5 years); San Francisco (10.5 years); Long Beach, California (10.5 years); Hialeah, Florida (10.4 years); San Diego (10.2 years); and Garden Grove, California (10.2 years).

In the Midwest and South, far away from those pricey coastal markets, saving up to buy a home is a piece of cake, comparatively.

Families in Detroit, where the median household income is $34,762 and the median home sales price is $88,900, only need to spend 2.56 years saving up for a down payment.

Similarly short savings periods can be found in Wichita, Kansas (2.66 years); Toledo, Ohio (2.83 years); Akron, Ohio (2.97 years); and Fort Wayne, Indiana (3.13 years).

Homebuyers in California face the toughest road to homeownership by far, with six cities in the state landing in the top 10 cities where it takes the longest to save up for a down payment. Similarly, the state is home to more than half of the 100 most expensive zip codes in the country, according to an analysis by RealtyHop.

Despite the state’s lack of affordability, the city of Bakersfield is an exception, where the median household income is $69,014 and the median list price is $310,000, allowing buyers to save up for a down payment in 4.49 years.

In the Northeast, buyers looking to save in a shorter amount of time may want to look at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Rochester, New York, where it takes buyers with median incomes for each region about 5 years or less to save for a home.

In the Midwest, buyers with median household incomes in Aurora, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; and Cleveland, Ohio, can save up for a down payment in no more than 3.41 years.

Meanwhile, in the South, homebuyers who meet the median household income in Shreveport, Louisiana; Montgomery, Alabama; and Lubbock, Texas, will only have to save their pennies for 3.51 years or less to afford a 20 percent down payment on a home.

RealtyHop calculated the median list price for homes in each city by analyzing over 1.8 million residential listings (including condos, co-ops, single-family homes and townhouses) on RealtyHop’s listing platform between July 2022 and December 2022. Median household income data was retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey (ACS).

Email Lillian Dickerson

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