San Diego isn’t the worst place in America to be a first-time homebuyer. But, it is close.
America’s Finest City scored poorly in a new study from personal finance website Bankrate that looked at the 50 biggest metros in the United States and ranked the best and worst metros for first-time homebuyers.
Metros were judged on affordability, job market, safety, culture, property taxes, days on market for homes, average commute times and homeownership rates. Metro San Diego scored seventh from last.
Bankrate said the worst places for first-time buyers are San Francisco and Los Angeles. The best are Pittsburgh and Raleigh.
“I think the story in San Diego is you are going to have to be both ready when the time comes to buy a home,” said Adrian Garcia, Bankrate data analyst, of the quick time homes sell, “and make compromises, and that might mean you move farther from the neighborhood you want to live in.”
This is the first year Bankrate has done the study, but other home affordability studies also have given poor marks to San Diego County. The study’s data focused on typical first-time buyers, ages 25 to 44. Here are highlights of the Bankrate data:
Affordability: 46 out of 50. The annual income needed for 3 percent down on a median-priced home was $151,137, but the median income for 25-to-44 years olds was $73,108, according to the fourth quarter 2018 U.S. Home Affordability Report from Attom Data Solutions. That’s also assuming the buyer is not spending more than 28 percent of their income on a house payment, including mortgage, property taxes and insurance. Another sign of affordability: The homeownership rate for 25 to 44-year olds was 33.6 percent in the 2017 U.S. Census. That was the second lowest behind Los Angeles (30 percent), and a far cry from Minneapolis (60 percent).
Culture: 26 out of 50. How does one judge culture? It turns out there is a study called the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index that asks respondents things that are related to physical health, liking where they live, economic stress and social relationships. In 2017, the San Diego metropolitan area ranked 20th out of 186 metro areas, getting high points in physical health. Another way Bankrate looked at culture was the number of restaurants per person, with San Diego ranking high with 187 restaurants per 100,000 people.
Job market rank: 31 out of 50. San Diego metro has a low unemployment rate, but that wasn’t enough to significantly raise its score in the Bankrate study. While the metro area had a 3.8 percent jobless rate in January, Bankrate isolated the unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds. San Diego’s 6.2 percent rate was higher than many cities, including Boston, Phoenix and Seattle. The study also looked at commute times, which was an average time of 25.7 minutes, said 2017 Census data. That was low for California, but not as good as Buffalo where the average commute time was 21.5 minutes.
Market tightness rank: 46 out of 50. San Diego metro did not do well when considering the number of homes for sale and the number of days homes spent on the market before selling. Bankrate, using data from Realtor.com, said homes stayed on the market an average of 38 days in 2018 — fifth quickest of the metros studied. Also, there were 10.4 homes listed for sale out of every 1,000 homes, below places like Chicago where there are 21.2 homes per 1,000.
Safety rank: 9 out of 50. San Diego metro had 337.1 instances of violent crime per 100,000 people in 2017, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, much lower than places like Memphis, Baltimore and Indianapolis. Property crime was low, compared to most cities. The FBI recorded 1,695.5 incidents of property crime per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017.
Bankrate’s 2019 worst places for first-time homebuyers:
1. San Francisco
2. Los Angeles
4. San Jose
6. San Bernardino
7. San Diego
8. Las Vegas
San Diego Union-Tribune