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You need to earn $127K to afford a home in LA

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Only 25 percent of residents countywide can afford the purchase

The California Association of Realtors pegs the cost of a house in LA County at $649,570.
Liz Kuball

Want to buy a house? You’ll need to make at least $127,200 to own one in Los Angeles County, according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors.

That’s the salary needed to qualify for a mortgage for a single-family home at the county’s median price point of $649,570. The monthly payment, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 3.85 percent, would be $3,180, excluding taxes and insurance, according to the association.

For the vast majority of local residents, that’s out of reach. Only 25 percent could afford the purchase, the association found, up from 22 percent at this time last year. The association credits the uptick to lower borrowing costs and higher incomes.

That’s about on par with the rest of California, though housing costs in the Bay Area are substantially higher. In San Francisco County, for example, where the median price of a home is $1.58 million, a salary of $309,600 is needed.

But incomes are also higher in the Bay Area. In Los Angeles County, while home prices skyrocketed 73 percent from 2011 to 2018, incomes rose just 17 percent, according to the Associated Press and the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

In December, prices jumped 4.4 percent year-over-year, compared to the average annual wage increase of 2.7 percent, to $64,197. In San Francisco County, wages grew 6.6 percent while housing prices increased 5.3 percent, to $96,361.

Earlier this year, UCLA’s Quality of Life Index found that across income groups, LA County residents are dissatisfied with the cost of housing. More than half of survey respondents, or 57 percent, said they or a close friend or family member had considered moving from their neighborhood in the last few years because of rising housing costs.

What can $650,000 buy in Los Angeles? Buyers shopping for a single-family home will find most of their options in Inglewood, South LA, Northeast LA, East LA, and the Valley. Currently on the market is a 1920s residence in Highland Park with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a basement, and a rear deck (but no backyard), and a three-bedroom, two-bathroom fixer-upper in Jefferson Park on a 5,206-square-foot lot.