Raise the roof

Dallas rates as one of easiest places to save for a home down payment

Dallas rates as one of easiest places to save for a home down payment

Open front door of a house
A generous down payment is often the key to buying a home. Photo by Ian Nolan/Getty Images

Dallas residents hoping to buy their first home can breathe a little sigh of relief. A new analysis shows DFW is the second best major metro area in the U.S. for putting aside money toward a down payment.

The analysis, produced by Zillow Group-owned RealEstate.com, indicates it takes an average of three years and five months for a first-time homebuyer in DFW to stash enough cash for a 20 percent down payment. Only Chicago had a shorter saving period for a 20 percent down payment.

While DFW boasts a hot job market and sizzling population growth, “the region has somewhat slipped under millennials’ radars — so much so that the Dallas Regional Chamber recently launched a ‘Say Yes to Dallas’ recruitment initiative. Maybe it’s time to give Dallas a second look,” RealEstate.com says.

The Austin metro area ranks ninth in the RealEstate.com analysis, with it taking an average of four years and seven months to save money for a 20 percent down payment.

“Austin is a magnet for millennials,” RealEstate.com says. “Employment opportunities draw them here, with the cool vibe, nightlife, and focus on green living cementing the deal. The housing market here is competitive, so expect a bidding battle once you’re ready to buy.”

By comparison, Portland, Oregon, is the worst place to save for a down payment: The average time there is 13 years, two months, according to RealEstate.com. Denver is second worst, at 12 years, five months.

Here’s the lowdown on how RealEstate.com arrived at the down payment numbers. The analysis factored in the median household income among millennials (ages 24 to 36) in the 35 largest U.S. metro areas, along with their estimated annual household savings, to figure out how long it would take to save for a 20 percent down payment on a starter home (priced within the bottom third of the market).

In DFW, the median annual income for millennial households is $50,600, with annual savings of $10,843. Taking that data into account, RealEstate.com arrived at a 20 percent down payment totaling $37,080 for an entry-level, single-family home with a median value of $185,400.

For Austin, the salary and savings figures were about the same as DFW’s, but the down payment and home numbers were higher. RealEstate.com computed a median annual income of $50,700 for millennials in the Austin area, with $10,864 in annual savings. For a starter home with a median value of $249,700, that would result in a 20 percent down payment of $49,940.

Twenty percent is the sweet spot for down payments, as a buyer with a down payment of less than that amount typically must buy private mortgage insurance. That adds to the cost of the monthly mortgage payment.

The RealEstate.com study might give solace to some DFW and Austin millennials who covet a home. According to Zillow Group’s most recent housing trends report, 39 percent of millennial homebuyers find it difficult to save money for a down payment.

“Contrary to popular belief, millennials want to buy homes, but high home prices, low inventory, and stagnant wage growth are some of the many factors that may be driving would-be buyers into delaying homeownership,” Justin LaJoie, general manager of RealEstate.com, says in a release.