If you’re a millennial looking to buy an entry-level home in California, good luck.
A new report from Bankrate.com ranks California as the toughest state for first-time homebuyers. The rankings are based on five major criteria — housing affordability, the job market for young adults, housing market tightness, credit availability and homeownership among the under-35 crowd.
Each category is weighted on a 1-10 scale with 10 being best and 1 being worst.
California scored an anemic 1.25 in both housing affordability and housing market tightness and its score for homeownership among millennials was worse at just 1.17. The Golden State fared marginally higher (2.76) in the job market for young adults and it pulled a respectable 7.23 score for credit availability.
But the state’s cumulative score topped out at just 13.67.
That landed considerably below Hawaii, which had the next lowest total score of 20.16, and New York, which ranked third from the bottom with a cumulative score of 23.12. When put in a broader context, California’s cumulative score of 13.67 was nearly three times lower than Iowa’s first-place score of 40.32.
Newly released figures from industry analytics firm CoreLogic show that Southern California home prices are continuing to rise.
The median price for all Southern California homes that were sold In January was $455,000, up 5.3 percent from $432,250 a year earlier. The year-over-year price increases for some Southland counties were even higher. Los Angeles County saw a 7.1 percent annual increase in January, boosting its median home price to $525,000. San Bernardino County rose 6.8 percent to $283,000 and Riverside County jumped 6.5 percent to $330,000.
Orange County saw more modest 2.6 percent annual increase, but that brought that region’s already high median price to $635,000.
Southern California homeowners also leaned more heavily on Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) in January. According to CoreLogic, Southern Californians took out 6,300 HELOCs in January 2017. That was up 7 percent from December 2016 and up 13.8 percent from January 2016.
Tom Adams, owner of the Century 21 Adams & Barnes realty network, acknowledged that things aren’t easy for first-time millennial homebuyers.
“It’s been tough for that group to find entry-level housing,” he said. “Developers aren’t building enough homes and the value of land keeps going up. There’s also been a lot of pressure from offshore money. That drives the prices up, so it’s tough all over.”
Developers are building an average of 80,000 new California homes a year but that falls well below the 180,000 that are needed, according to recent figures from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
Adams pointed to another factor that has curbed home buying among millennials.
“Part of the problem is that some folks want to have a lifestyle that doesn’t include them being homeowners,” he said. “When you look back over the years it used to be that homeownership was paramount. It took precedence over everything, but now we see that lifestyle trumps homeownership.”
Problem is, rental prices are also rising. A study released Tuesday by Zumper.com shows that the median rental price for a 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $2,000 a month, up 5.3 percent from a year ago. Two-bedroom units have risen 5.8 percent to $2,920 a month.
Rolf Pendall, co-director of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, noted in Bankrate’s report that California is a particularly difficult market for first-time buyers.
“When you have a state like California where the housing prices are really high and the rental housing is also really expensive, unless you have access to wealth from some source that’s not your job it’s going to be really hard for you to amass enough of a down payment, and also the kind of credit that you need to get into the housing market,” he said.
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