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IPFS News Link • California

The California Housing Market: Affordable, Attainable, or Impossible?

•, by Thomas Buckley

Politics, storms, vast amounts of (currently) sequestered, (always) predatory wealth, that "up at the end" accent no one can actually tolerate, etc. –  all that is true.

Add to that list housing cost spikes.

There has been a significant debate around the idea of "affordable" housing.  To simplify, that means – when the government is involved – a certain percentage of your known income will go to cover the roof over your head.  If you happen to live in the Golden State, that will mean somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of your gross income will go to housing (and it can be less than zero, depending upon the definition of permanent supportive housing).

But instead of focusing on the idea of "affordable" housing, it may be time to look at "attainable" housing.

Attainable housing first, unlike government-supported "affordable" housing, is owned, not rented.  A standard (averages used – locational issues are the variable) urban California housing unit costs about $3,000 per month, utilities extra.  This is a rent that can be sustained by an income of about $90,000 per year, already a bit above the state family average.

Now imagine making that rent payment each month and saving up for a down-payment – a California home (again, locational variables aside) costs about $700,000, which means an initial outlay (depending upon veteran and/or other status) of between $70,000 and $150,000.

This translates, if one is saving for a home, into an actual housing cost of $5,000 per month until the home is purchased.  In other words, the average family would have to earn more than $150,000 per to both pay rent and save up  for an, at best, typical home (and as prices rise, that figure gets higher every day).