June 19, 2024

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L.A. couple making over $100,000 combined give up hope of buying a house

2 min read

When Emily Blake moved to Los Angeles from North Carolina, she lived in a two-bedroom apartment. She doesn’t remember how much her rent was; all she knows is she could afford it on her school teacher salary. Now, in her mid-40s, she and her husband are living paycheck to paycheck, unable to move out of their rent-controlled apartment, and they can’t even imagine owning a home in the city. 

Blake and her partner both work in the film industry; she’s a freelance script supervisor and he’s an assistant to a visual effects agent. Together, they made slightly over $100,000 last year. They are lucky enough to have a great deal on a rent-controlled apartment in Echo Park, a fashionable neighborhood in the eastern part of the sprawling megacity where her husband has been living for seven years. Since Blake moved in a little over a year ago, they split the rent of $1,750 per month. So why do they feel trapped and hopeless of ever buying a house? “We can’t leave,” she tells Fortune.

“We would never be able to find an apartment for this rate, it just doesn’t exist,” she says. They used to think about buying a house, but that was before the Pandemic Housing Boom drove prices to an absurdly unaffordable level, including a mortgage rate shock that’s still playing out. 

Blake and her husband should be well positioned, since they make more than the median household income and pay well under the median rent. The median household income in the city is $69,778, per the Census Bureau, while the median rent for all bedroom and property types in the city is $2,895. But just look at the average home value in Los Angeles of $923,739. Hypothetically, at a 7% interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, a monthly payment on a $900,000 home would be roughly $4,790, before taxes and insurance. 

“We would love a house, we want a house so badly,” Blake says, but “it’s not possible…you have to make over $200,000 a year in order to buy a house…

Alena Botros

2023-10-22 06:00:00

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