California's 'median-price' home is worth $830K: Here's how much you need to make in each county to afford one

If you're interested in buying a home in California, you'd better have a lot of money saved up or perhaps look into purchasing a home in a more affordable state like Texas or Florida.

That's because fewer than 1 in 5 homebuyers in California - around 16% - can afford to buy a median-priced existing single-family home in the Golden State, according to new data released by the California Association of Realtors.

The study found a median-priced home in California was estimated at $830,620.

Additionally, data revealed housing affordability in California hit a 16-year low in the second quarter of 2023. By comparison, the percentage of homebuyers able to purchase a median-priced single-family home was 56% in 2012.

This all comes as interest rates continue to hover above 6% and home prices remain high due to a shortage of homes on the market, analysts found.


Exactly how much do you need? 

According to the data, a minimum income of $208,000 was needed to qualify to purchase a median-priced home. 

If you qualify for the mortgage, monthly payments would estimate around $5,200 if you put 20% down and qualified for an interest rate of around 6.6%.

On the bright side, the median price of condos and townhomes in California decreased slightly from a year ago, but was up from the previous quarter, data showed.

The study found 25% of homebuyers were able to purchase "more affordable" townhomes or condos, with a median-price estimated at $640,000. A minimum annual income of $160,400 was required to make a monthly payment of $4,010, according to the figures.


Los Angeles, CA - October 11: A home at 6091 Meridian Street is seen for sale in Highland Park on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

If you're wondering which counties offer the most affordable homes, the data found Lassen County remained the most affordable. There, you'd need a minimum qualifying income of $62,400 to purchase a median-sized home. Siskiyou, Plumas, Shasta, and Tehama counties rounded out the top five. 

The least affordable county in California is San Mateo County, where the highest minimum qualifying income of $504,400 is needed to buy a median-priced home. Santa Clara County required the second-highest minimum income of $451,200, followed by Marin ($443,600) and San Francisco ($403,600).

Orange and Santa Barbara counties also ranked among least affordable, where a required minimum income of at least $216,800 was needed to purchase a median-priced home. 

Take a look at some of the median home prices for several California counties below:

Southern California 

Los Angeles 

Median home price: $789,400
Monthly payment: $4,950
Minimum qualifying income: $198,000


Median home price: $1.25 million 
Monthly payment: $7,830
Minimum qualifying income: $313,200


Median home price: $625,000
Monthly payment: $3,920
Minimum qualifying income: $156,800

San Bernardino

Median home price: $456,500
Monthly payment: $2,860
Minimum qualifying income: $114,400

San Diego

Median home price: $942,350
Monthly payment: $5,900
Minimum qualifying income: $236,000

Santa Barbara

Median home price: $1.19 million
Monthly payment: $7,490
Minimum qualifying income: $299,600


Median home price: $915,000
Monthly payment: $5,730
Minimum qualifying income: $229,200

Bay Area


Median home price: $1.27 million
Monthly payment: $7,990
Minimum qualifying income: $319,600

Contra Costa 

Median home price: $900,000
Monthly payment: $5,640
Minimum qualifying income: $225,600


Median home price: $1.77 million 
Monthly payment: $11,090
Minimum qualifying income: $443,600


Median home price: $855,000
Monthly payment: $5,360
Minimum qualifying income: $214,400

San Francisco

Median home price: $1.61 million
Monthly payment: $10,090 
Minimum qualifying income: $403,600 

San Mateo 

Median home price: $2.01 million
Monthly payment: $12,610 
Minimum qualifying income: $504,400

Santa Clara 

Median home price: $1.80 million
Monthly payment: $11,280
Minimum qualifying income: $451,200


Median home price: $592,750
Monthly payment: $3,710
Minimum qualifying income: $148,400


Median home price: $850,000
Monthly payment: $5,330
Minimum qualifying income: $213,200

When comparing California to other states, more than a third of the nation's households can afford to purchase a $402,600 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $100,800 to make monthly payments of $2,520. Nationwide affordability was down from 38% a year ago, data showed.

To see the full study, tap or click here.