“Singles” might have been a romantic comedy when it came out in 1992, with its grunge-infused take on dating in Seattle. In 2018 it would be a horror movie about trying to afford a house on your own.
According to new data from Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate tech company, single homebuyers need much more time than couples to save for a down payment on the typical home in the United States. In tech hubs like Seattle, the numbers are even more daunting.
While it might take about 11 years, as a single homebuyer, to save for a median-priced home as a whole in the United States, in Seattle that timeframe jumps to 17.1 years. The percentage of housing stock available and the maximum value of what’s affordable also drop significantly for singles (see chart below).
It makes sense, since singles typically have a smaller budget to work with than couples. Unless, of course, those singles are all tech workers in Seattle, who are doing quite well for themselves — and earning far above the median $46,000 — according to another study.
But as Seattle keeps a firm grip on its title as the hottest housing market in the United States, those hoping to throw two incomes at a down payment won’t be helped by the popular belief that it’s apparently hard to date in a city full of male tech workers.
“Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that buying a home is a central part of living the American dream, but for unmarried or un-partnered Americans, that dream is increasingly out of reach,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas said in a news release. “Single buyers typically have more limited budgets, which means they are likely competing for lower-priced homes that are in high demand. Having two incomes allows buyers to compete in higher priced tiers where competition is not has stiff.”
Zillow’s analysis combined home values and Census income data to estimate how long it would take for both an individual and couple to save for a 20 percent down payment on the median-priced home, assuming they saved 10 percent of their income every year.
When it comes to tech hubs, it’s even worse in San Jose, Calif.
A single buyer in that Silicon Valley city would need more than 30 years to save for a down payment, Zillow says — longer than the lifespan of a typical home loan.
Portland and Sacramento, Calif., are tops when it comes to the difference between what a single person could afford compared to a couple. In Portland, 73 percent of homes are affordable to a couple, but only 6 percent are affordable to a single buyer.
If home is where the heart is, no matter if you’re single, perhaps Indianapolis is the place for you. Saving for a down payment in that Midwest city takes less than eight years, and shoppers can afford the highest share of homes among the largest American housing markets.