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Cities where U.S. homebuyers make largest down payments

Down payment amounts fell relative to home prices in the last year, but homebuyers in some U.S. markets are still putting down more than $100,000 on a home — especially in California.

Homebuyers put down an average of 13.8% of the home price in 2023, according to a Realtor.com analysis of the 150 largest real estate markets for the quarter ending in September.

That’s a slight decrease from 14.7% for the same time period in 2022, although more cash was put into down payments overall in 2023.

This might suggest that fewer people can afford an upfront down payment of 20% for a home, which is a common benchmark since it allows homeowners to avoid paying private mortgage insurance each month. Generally, PMI will cost between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 you borrow, according to Freddie Mac.

Here’s a look at the 15 most expensive real estate markets, based on the median cost for a typical down payment on a home. While the U.S. average for down payments is 13.8% of the home price, they will vary for each market.

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: $235,183
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California: $202,575
  3. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California: $160,750
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California: $152,275
  5. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, California: $147,550
  6. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California: $142,800
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: $123,630
  8. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California: $119,917
  9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire: $108,658
  10. Fort Collins, Colorado: $105,533
  11. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, California: $104,159
  12. Naples-Marco Island, Florida: $98,357
  13. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania: $97,319
  14. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington: $82,667
  15. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut: $82,667

California dominates the rankings, as the state has some of the most desirable and most expensive properties in the U.S. California also has a longstanding housing shortage that has put upward pressure on prices.

In contrast to these markets, the smallest down payments are a few thousand dollars. In Killeen, Texas, median down payment is only $2,182.

As is the case in Killeen, down payments tend to be lower in areas near military bases. This includes Fayetteville, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; and El Paso, Texas, where median down payments are $5,000 or less.

This is partly due to the number of relatively affordable, 0% down mortgages offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Realtor.com reports. U.S. Department of Agriculture loans also require no down payment, which might lead to low down payments in relatively rural areas.

For purposes of the study, down payment amounts were calculated using data from mortgage technology company Optimal Blue.

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