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New Study Ranks Santa Monica Among Least Affordable for First-Time Home Buyers
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 4, 2016 -- With the peak home-buying season starting to wane, a new study reveals what many newcomers to the Santa Monica real estate market are realizing: This slice of paradise is no place for first timers with cost in mind.

A new study ranks Santa Monica among the least affordable cities for first-time home buyers, ranking 296th of 300 cities analyzed by Wallet Hub, a personal-finance research site, for overall affordability for novices.

The least affordable city in the analysis was Miami Beach, followed by Miami, both in Florida, then Berkeley and San Francisco.

First-time home buyers were best off in Fayetteville, North Carolina, which was most affordable. Also in the top five in that category were Dayton, Ohio; Boise, Idaho; Flint in Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

No city in California came close; Visalia, in the agriculturally-based San Joaquin Valley, was highest on the affordability list, taking 98th place.

The City of Los Angeles took the 285th least-affordable place for newcomers. California cities comprised most the worst-ranked locales.

Sky-high home prices have helped Santa Monica earn similar rankings before, especially as Southern California home sales have soared in the post-Great Recession years.

The median price of a home in Santa Monica was $1,363,600 as of last June, an 11.5 percent jump from last year, according to Zillow, an online site that monitors real estate in the U.S.

Most of Santa Monica’s residents rent; homeowners only account for about 22 percent of its roughly 52,000 housing units, according to recent U.S. Census statistics.

Santa Monica posted a healthier ranking in the study when it looked at “quality of life issues,” such as crime and schools as part of the overall score for each city. Santa Monica was close to the middle, at 154th place.

But Diana Popa, a Wallet Hub spokesperson, said the site’s research detailed how expensive the home-sales market is for first-time buyers, who comprised nearly a third of the nation’s buyers of primary residences in 2015.

“The historical average has been 40 percent for this group,” she said.

Wallet Hub examined 300 cities of varying sizes across 19 key metrics, ranging from cost of homes to real-estate taxes and such factors as crime rates. The analysts also separated cities into categories of large, mid-sized and small (those with populations of fewer than 150,000 residents).

Of 144 small cities in the affordability study, first-timers still fared poorly in Santa Monica, which earned the 127th slot.

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