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Average Down Payment for a California Home Purchase, 2022 Update

Home prices continue to climb steadily across the state of California, as we move further into the spring of 2022. As a result, the typical down payment among home buyers has risen as well — and by a significant amount.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the average down payment in California for 2022, using some updated pricing data and three commonly used down-payment thresholds.

At a glance: In early 2022, California home buyers who put down 12% on a median-priced house would end up paying around $92,706. Those who put down 3% (the minimum for many conventional mortgage loans) would have an upfront payment of $23,176. And of course, there’s a broad spectrum in between.

Keep in mind these are just averages based on the current statewide median home price. Your down payment amount could vary due to a number of factors. And we’ll talk about those variables below.

How Much Do You Have to Put Down?

There’s a common misconception among many home buyers that you have to put down 20% when buying a house in California. But in most cases, that’s not true. In fact, there are many different home loan options that allow for a smaller upfront investment.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that the average down payment among first-time buyers in California and nationwide was 6%. The average among all buyers (including previous homeowners) was 12%.

Repeat buyers tend to put more money down, on average, because they often have proceeds from a previous home sale to put toward their next purchase.

But there’s a big difference between the average down payment in California, and the minimum investment that’s required for different mortgage programs. For instance, many of the conventional loans that end up being sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae can have a down payment as low as 3%.

The FHA program allows borrowers to invest as little as 3.5%, and VA loans offer 100% financing with no down payment whatsoever. So let’s move past that 20% misconception.

Getting back to the question at hand: What’s the average down payment on a house in California, using 2022 figures? Here’s an updated analysis based on current home-price data provided by the state’s Realtor association.

Average Down Payments in California: 2022 Update

According to a March 2022 report from the California Association of Realtors, the statewide median sale price for homes was $786,750. In April, the real estate listings and data company Zillow reported the median home value for California was $758,360.

For the purposes of calculating the average down payment for the first quarter of 2022, we averaged these two figures to get $772,555. Using this median home price for California, we can then apply it to some of the most common down-payment thresholds among home buyers.

You’ll recall from above that the average down payment among all home buyers was found to be 12%. The average amount first-time buyers was 6%. And the minimum down payment for the ever-popular conventional mortgage loan often comes out to 3%. So let’s break it down.

Here’s an estimate of the average down payment in California, as of Q2 2022:

  • At 3% = $23,176
  • At 6% = $46,353
  • At 12% = $92,706

Also, many buyers in California choose to put 20% down when buying a house, in order to avoid paying mortgage insurance. For a median-priced home in 2022, an investment of this level would come out to around $154,511. But again, a 20% investment isn’t always necessary. Many home buyers put down less than that.

Overcoming the Investment Hurdle

These figures show us what a “typical” down payment in California might look like, using the median price point and the average investments made by home buyers. The minimum amount you’re required to put down could fall outside of this range for a number of reasons. The purchase price is the biggest variable, but there are others as well.

And don’t be discouraged if you cannot afford this kind of upfront investment. You could reduce your down-payment expense below these average figures by purchasing a more affordable home. You might also be able to use gift money provided by a third-party donor, such as a family member.

Disclaimer: This article offers insight into the minimum and average down payment for a house in California, based on 2022 price data and mortgage requirements. Every mortgage loan scenario is different because every borrower is different. Therefore, portions of this article might not apply to your particular situation.

Mike Trejo

Mike Trejo is a Bay Area mortgage broker with 20+ years of knowledge and experience.

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