Orange County ranks among California's most expensive areas to buy a home

David González Image
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
How much income do you need to buy a home in Orange County?
Orange County is one of California's least affordable regions in terms of households that can afford a median home.

The dream of becoming a homeowner in Orange County is feeling more like a nightmare when you find out how much a person has to make to afford one.

"Prices in Orange County continue to rise," said Jordan Levine, senior vice president and chief economist for the California Association of Realtors.

Orange County ties for third among California's least affordable counties in terms of percentage of households that can afford a median-priced home in their area.

The state's least affordable counties:

  • Mono County: 4%
  • San Luis Obispo: 10%
  • Orange, San Diego, Monterey and Santa Barbara: 11%

"Just 11% of households are out there making enough money to actually afford that median-priced home, which was in the first quarter about $1.3 million and change," Levine said.

According to the report the minimum qualifying income needed to buy the median California home is $208,400.

But in Orange County, the California Association of Realtors' first quarter housing affordability report shows a minimum annual income of almost $349,200 is needed to purchase a median home.

"That's almost $150,000 more that you need to afford homes in Orange County, just given the higher price compared to places like the Central Valley and other parts that may be more affordable," he said.

Also, it's three and half times the national average income of $99,600 needed to buy a median-priced home listed at $389,400.

A dip in mortgage interest rates could help lower the cost of buying a home.

However, Levine predicts a lack of new construction will keep prices competitive.

"This kind of supply-and-demand gap is what drives those prices higher and I am concerned that home ownership will fall out of reach."

People living in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara in the Bay Area would have to make a minimum of $422,000 to afford the median home in that area.