Saving to buy a home in the Baltimore region takes longer than it did 30 years ago but not as long as elsewhere across the country.

According to a recent report from real estate data firm Zillow, it would take prospective Baltimore buyers 6.5 years on average to save the 20 percent needed to purchase a home.


Here’s how Zillow did the math: If a Baltimore-area resident saved 10 percent of the region’s current median income of $81,411, that would be $678 a month. With the existing median home sale price in Baltimore of $264,800, that would mean 6.5 years of saving to accumulate a 20 percent down payment of $52,960.

That’s 15 months slower than in 1988 because incomes have not kept pace with rising home prices. Back then, the median salary was $47,186 and median home sales price was $123,600, so it took 5.2 years of saving $393 a month to get the 20 percent down payment of $24,720.

Home prices rise in September but don't reach summer's highs

The median sales price for homes in the Baltimore metro area hit a 10-year high for September of $270,000, up 6.7 percent from a year ago.

Of course, home buyers aren’t required to make a 20 percent down payment even though that’s what’s recommended. Some mortgage programs allow buyers to put down less or buyers can pay for mortgage insurance to protect their lender in the event of foreclosure.

A prospective buyer is better off in Baltimore than elsewhere. Nationally, the average is 7.2 years to save for a down payment, 17 months longer than in 1988.

It’s much worse in California, where home prices have soared in recent decades. In San Jose, California, buyers need an additional 13.3 years than in 1988 to save for that down payment. Buyers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego need seven or more years longer.

However, residents in Indianapolis or the Texas cities of Austin, San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth actually need less time than 30 years ago.