How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in San Francisco?

Wondering what you need to earn to buy a median-priced, single-family home in San Francisco or its neighboring counties? A new report from Compass looks at that figure, breaks down the median monthly expenditures, and touches on affordability issues in the Bay Area.

An Annual Income of $300,000+

Residents in San Francisco need to earn an annual income of $350,000. In San Mateo county, it’s close to $400,000. Compare that to the California average of $150,800.

The numbers are up in spite of historically-low mortgage rates, because monthly costs in this part of the country climbed over the last year. In San Mateo county, a median-priced home costs over $9,500 in monthly payments (with a 20% down payment and the current fixed mortgage interest rate), plus estimated taxes and insurance. A year ago, that cost was just over $8,000 a month.

It’s the same story in California at large. In the second quarter of 2021, monthly housing expenditures for a median-priced home were under $4,000. That’s close to a $1,000 increase from the second quarter of 2020.

Prices were up, but affordability stayed pretty similar. The report considers whether post-pandemic migration and unemployment trends minimized the year-over-year decline in household affordability percentages and identifies three factors contributing to housing affordability percentages:

  • Median house sales price
  • Mortgage interest rates
  • Country income distribution figures

The big issue at play in San Francisco was the migration from the city after the pandemic hit. It’s a good guess that the majority of those households were made up of lower-wage workers and mostly tenants at that. The loss of that population pushed the city’s income distribution figures up, since a bigger percentage of the folks who remained were financially qualified to buy. In other words, the percentage of people who made enough money annually to buy a median-priced home stayed the same, despite the median price leap.

In counts that had positive migration trends, affluent people moved in as less affluent people left, which, again, skews the household income figures up and minimizes drops in affordability percentages—even with higher median home prices.


It’s always interesting to review the stats, but if you’re wondering how this applies to you specifically, you know where to find me.

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