To afford a typical L.A.-area home, you must earn $96,513, study says

Signs in Huntington Beach point to open houses.
(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Want to comfortably own a home in Los Angeles? You’ll need a pretty hefty paycheck.

That’s according to a report from mortgage research firm, which analyzed the required salary to afford a median-priced home, if the buyer puts down 20%.

In Los Angeles and Orange counties, a buyer needs to take home $96,513 annually to reasonably afford a median-priced home, which was $481,900 in the third quarter. A quarter earlier, you could have purchased a typical house while making about $10,000 less.

The high cost of housing in the Southland has sent sales down this year and cooled a once frothy market. While the high end of the market is still humming, many buyers are struggling to afford a house after home prices surged far faster than wages in recent years.


HSH says a home is affordable if the owner pays 28% or less of monthly pretax household income on principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance. The firm assumed an L.A. buyer would get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.25%.

The L.A. area is the third most expensive metro in the U.S., behind only San Diego and San Francisco, according to HSH.

In San Diego, a buyer would need an annual salary of $101,682. In San Francisco, that rises to $145,361.

There is some good news. Since HSH ran its calculations, mortgage rates have fallen. HSH pegs the average national rate for a 30-year fixed loan at 4.07% this week.

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