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Study reveals buying more affordable in Seattle than renting

Paying for a mortgage is still more affordable than renting in Seattle and most of the United States, but saving enough money for a down payment has become increasingly difficult for first-time buyers, according to a new study released by Zillow.

Residents of the Seattle metro can expect to spend about 22.2 percent of their income on a mortgage, compared to 31.7 percent on rent. Zillow tabbed the Seattle median house price at $359,400 with a down payment of $71,880 needed to buy that home, according to the company’s third quarter analysis of U.S. rental and mortgage affordability.

“Using a smaller down payment is an option, but often comes with the added cost of mortgage insurance,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. “Knowing this, it’s no wonder that many current renters are waiting longer to buy a home and are turning to alternate sources, including friends and family, to help them scrape together a down payment.”

Rental affordability worsened in 28 of the 35 largest metros over the past year, and mortgage affordability worsened in just 18 of them. Nationally, homeowners can expect to spend 15 percent of their income on a mortgage, and 30 percent on rent. But getting that mortgage payment requires a homebuyer to have saved $62,760 for a 20 percent down payment.

First-time homebuyers and millennials are left trying to find other ways to break into the housing market, turning to friends and family for financial help. In 2014, 13 percent of home purchases were bought using a loan or gift from friends or family for the down payment.

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