This California city just knocked SF off list of top five least affordable in US

In San Francisco, 64.35% of household income is used toward mortgage payments and property taxes, according to the report. That’s compared to the least affordable city, New York, where 84.03% of income is spent on homeownership. Miami is next at 83.18%, followed by Los Angeles at 81.18% and Newark, N.J., at 80.18%.

Long Beach and Hialeah, in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, were each up one spot this month, ranking as the fifth and sixth least-affordable cities with 65.49% and 64.4% of income spent on homeownership, respectively.

But Shane Lee, a data scientist with RealtyHop, explained that this doesn’t mean San Francisco’s homes are any less expensive — it still has the highest average home price, according to RealtyHop’s data.

“San Francisco was expensive and is still expensive today,” Lee said — but its median income, which RealtyHop pulled from the U.S. census, is higher than the cities that outrank it on the most unaffordable list — though the Bay Area continues to struggle with severe income inequality.

Lee added that the city moved down the list this month because its housing market isn’t growing quite as fast as some other metro areas, which are seeing home prices move up more quickly. Inflation is also worsening the problem, she said.

Overall, she said, housing prices are on the rise, due to an increase in demand and a slowdown in building, especially in metro areas like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

A Chronicle data analysis also found that most neighborhoods in San Francisco have seen sluggish or negative growth in home values over the latter half of the last decade, while the northern and eastern parts of the Bay Area have seen their home values increase faster in the past few years than earlier in the decade.

San Francisco’s rental market has also been slow to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to a Chronicle analysis, though experts say that the rental market has mostly returned to pre-pandemic seasonal behavior, and prices could soon catch up.

Wage growth in many metro areas is also slower than rises in housing prices, Lee said, which also drives homeownership out of reach for many people.

“It’s possible wage growth is not keeping up, so affordability will continue to be a problem,” she said. “Homes are still going to be unaffordable for the foreseeable future.”

Danielle Echeverria is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @DanielleEchev

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