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Here’s Where You Can Expect to Buy a Home (or Not) Before 40

If you’re a young person living—and renting—in an expensive city, watching friends in other parts of the country buy their first home, you’re not alone.

New analysis from Earnest shows that in several major metropolitan areas across the United States, the high cost of homeownership is delaying buying among those aged 25-35, the years when home buying accelerates.



The Silicon Valley metros of San Francisco and San Jose have the lowest rates of homeownership among Earnest loan applicants, at 6% and 7%. This is despite the fact that these job hubs also have the highest median incomes in Earnest’s dataset for this age range: $81,000 in San Francisco and $86,000 in San Jose, as compared with $56,000 across the U.S. overall.

Delayed home buying among millennials is strongly correlated with housing costs. To compare metros, Earnest’s analysis considered the age in each metro when 25% own their own home. San Jose had the highest age, at 42.5, as well as the highest median home cost, just shy of $1,000,000, based on the Zillow Home Value Index.

San Francisco comes in second on both measures, while New York has the third highest age of homeownership, however, its median home cost ranks seventh, or $387,000. This may be due to New York’s more moderate incomes, with a median of $65,000.

Alongside Silicon Valley and New York, several other cities are seeing delayed home buying. Notably, the Californian cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and Riverside are also among the 15 least affordable metros, both by highest median home costs and by highest age when 25% own.


Earnest’s data underscores an overall slump in home buying: new U.S. Census data shows that in the second quarter of 2016, the national homeownership rate fell to 62.9%, matching its all-time low from 1965, when this number was first measured. This comes only a decade after the all-time high of 69.2% in the mid-2000s, before the housing crisis.

Despite this slower journey to owning a home, the American Dream is still alive: 90% of renters and 94% of renters aged 20-29 intend to buy a home in the future, according to a Zumper survey released this month. Reaching this milestone just might take a little longer, depending on where you live.

Still, there is good news: in major metro areas where median home values remain below $500,000, such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., 25% or more of people own their home before age 35. The highest homeownership rates for young people can be found in St. Louis and Salt Lake City, where 35% and 32% of those aged 18-35 own their own home.


Those living in—or considering moving to—a more expensive metro can also take heart. While renting may be your reality for a longer period of time, the career opportunities and upward mobility often found in more expensive cities can also give you a long-term financial boost, allowing you to pay off your student loans faster or build equity in other ways.

Earnest’s analysis is based on anonymized data from over 80,000 loan applicants across the United States, who represent an educated, tech-savvy, and upwardly mobile demographic.

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