San Jose tops list for least affordable housing in US

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Seven-digit bids for suburban, tear-down homes. Small one-bedrooms and converted garages rented and stuffed to capacity. Families and workers living in RVs lining local roads.

Your eyes and ears haven’t deceived you: San Jose is the most expensive metro in the country to buy or rent a home.

The average homeowner in San Jose needs to spend more than half their income on a mortgage, according to a study released Thursday by real estate website Zillow. In the San Francisco metro, which includes Alameda, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties, the average homeowner has to budget 45 percent of their paycheck for a mortgage.

The difficulty of buying or renting in San Jose is “well above the historic average,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “For a low-income household, it’s even worse.”

Low income renters in the Bay Area have to spend nearly all of their income to afford the typical apartment.

The report comes as home prices continue record, year-over year gains. The median price for a home in Santa Clara County in July was $1.3 million, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic. The median sale price in the nine-county Bay Area jumped nearly 10 percent, year over year, to $890,000.

The lack of new homes and apartments for workers has pushed prices higher as tech companies continue to expand in the Peninsula. The housing shortage has spun off into several political movements — a ballot measure to give cities greater latitude on imposing rent control, pro-growth groups, and legislation seeking to curb local power to kill new housing developments.

“Unless you’re Rip Van Winkle, please don’t be surprised we have an affordable housing crisis,” said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Local governments over the last 25 years have consistently supported commercial over residential development, he said. Between 2010 and 2016, regional employment grew 29 percent, while housing increased “an anemic” 4 percent, he said.

“Our communities are failing to provide homes for our current population,” Guardino said. “We have to ring the alarm.”

Nationally, homeowners spend 17 percent of their income on a mortgage, with low-income residents spending 62 percent of their paychecks on rent. The share of income spent on mortgages nationally has dropped from the historic average of 21 percent between 1985 and 2000, according to Zillow.

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