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San Francisco is getting even less affordable for homebuyers

Housing and real estate are pictured on Bernal Heights Boulevard in San Francisco on Sept. 27, 2022. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

Despite signs of a cooling housing market, buying a home in San Francisco is slipping further out of reach for many prospective homebuyers.

In the third quarter of this year, the minimum qualifying income needed to get a mortgage for a median-priced San Francisco home was $385,200, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR). That’s a jump of more than $53,000 compared to a year ago, when the minimum qualifying income was a mere $331,600.

Over the same period, the monthly mortgage payment needed to afford a median-priced home increased by more than 15%, from $8,290 to $9,630.

According to the CAR, housing affordability in California—and nationally—is at its lowest level since 2007. 

That’s despite a glut of homes on the market, at least in San Francisco: Home sales in the city have dropped in recent months as high interest rates, rising inflation and mass tech layoffs take a toll on the city’s housing market.

According to data from the city Controller’s Office, San Francisco's single-family home prices fell 6.2% between May and September, compared with a statewide housing price drop of 2.5% from a peak in June. 

Only 20% of households in San Francisco could afford a median-priced, single-family home, currently pegged at around $1.66 million, in the third quarter. That compares with 29% of households a decade ago. 

But San Francisco’s housing affordability problems are not unique, particularly in the Bay Area.

In all of the region’s nine counties, less than a third of households were able to afford a median-priced home, ranging from only 13% of households in Napa County to 30% in Solano County.