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The Shortest Distance to Home

Saving for a down payment is one of the most important steps in the homebuying process. But as the average home price eclipses $380,000, the amount buyers need to save up is increasing too. Knowing this, RentCafe analyzed the top 174 metropolitan areas to find out where first-time buyers can save up for a down payment in the shortest amount of time. 

In order to complete this analysis, RentCafe used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Economic Policy InstituteBureau of Labor and Statistics, and Zillow to calculate the number of years it would take a two-person household to save for a down payment on a starter home. 

All-in-all, homeseekers should look to the Midwest if they want to save up for a down payment the fastest, as it had the highest concentration of cities to make the list. 

The analysis found in the 174 areas included in this study, 36%—or 64 metropolitan areas—were cities in which it is theoretically possible to save the recommended 20% needed for a down payment within 10 years. Furthermore, in all of the top 20 metropolitan areas it was found that a down payment could be saved within three years or less based on current market conditions. 

Major metropolitan areas largely did not make the list, opting instead for small- to mid-sized markets where incomes were relatively high and cost of living was low. 

“Notably, small- to mid-sized metros in the Midwest are the best for first-time homebuyers, and Illinois is the top individual state, with seven metros where incomes and the cost of living allow you to set aside money for a down payment,” the report said. “Namely, the fastest metros to save in are Bloomington and Springfield—both in Illinois—followed by Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Trenton-Princeton, New Jersey. In these areas, the average family could buy their first home in less than two years.” 

The top-20 cities are as follows: 

  1. Bloomington, Illinois
  • Time to save for a down payment: 1 year 
  • Median starter home price: $105,249 
  • Down payment value: $21,050 
  • Median income (two-person family): $91,049 
  • Needs 63% / Wants 15% / Savings 22% 
  1. Springfield, Illinois
  • Time to save for a down payment: 1 year, 3 months 
  • Median starter home price: $81,901 
  • Down payment value: $16,380 
  • Median income (two-person family): $81,855 
  • Needs 68% / Wants 17% / Savings 15% 
  1. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Time to save for a down payment: 1 year, 9 months 
  • Median starter home price: $117,181 
  • Down payment value: $23,436 
  • Median income (two-person family): $79,532 
  • Needs 63% / Wants 20% / Savings 17% 
  1. Trenton, New Jersey
  • Time to save for a down payment: 1 year, 10 months 
  • Median starter home price: $164,490 
  • Down payment value: $32,898 
  • Median income (two-person family): $96,196 
  • Needs 65% / Wants 17% / Savings 18% 
  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 4 months 
  • Median starter home price: $228,996 
  • Down payment value: $45,799 
  • Median income (two-person family): $92,298 
  • Needs 64% / Wants 15% / Savings 21% 
  1. Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 4 months 
  • Median starter home price: $212,918 
  • Down payment value: $42,584 
  • Median income (two-person family): $87,004 
  • Needs 61% / Wants 18% / Savings 20% 
  1. Bridgeport, Connecticut 
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 5 months 
  • Median starter home price: $303,031 
  • Down payment value: $60,606 
  • Median income (two-person family): $112,228 
  • Needs 62% / Wants 16% / Savings 22% 
  1. Fargo, North Dakota
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 5 months 
  • Median starter home price: $187,766 
  • Down payment value: $37,553 
  • Median income (two-person family): $83,854 
  • Needs 63% / Wants 19% / Savings 18% 
  1. Madison, Wisconsin 
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 6 months 
  • Median starter home price: $242,538 
  • Down payment value: $48,508 
  • Median income (two-person family): $89,899 
  • Needs 64% / Wants 15% / Savings 21% 
  1. Des Moines, Iowa
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 7 months 
  • Median starter home price: $154,720 
  • Down payment value: $30,944 
  • Median income (two-person family): $80,862 
  • Needs 66% / Wants 19% / Savings 14% 
  1. Hartford, Connecticut 
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 8 months 
  • Median starter home price: $198,000 
  • Down payment value: $39,600 
  • Median income (two-person family): $93,124 
  • Needs 65% / Wants 20% / Savings 16% 
  1. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 8 months 
  • Median starter home price: $122,982 
  • Down payment value: $24,596 
  • Median income (two-person family): $73,562 
  • Needs 69% / Wants 19% / Savings 12% 
  1. Champaign, Illinois
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 8 months 
  • Median starter home price: $102,166 
  • Down payment value: $20,433 
  • Median income (two-person family): $80,258 
  • Needs 73% / Wants 17% / Savings 9% 
  1. Baltimore, Maryland
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 9 months 
  • Median starter home price: $211,039 
  • Down payment value: $42,208 
  • Median income (two-person family): $94,477 
  • Needs 65% / Wants 19% / Savings 16% 
  1. Waterloo, Iowa
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 10 months 
  • Median starter home price: $91,403 
  • Down payment value: $18,281 
  • Median income (two-person family): $73,403 
  • Needs 70% / Wants 21% / Savings 9% 
  1. Washington, DC
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 10 months 
  • Median starter home price: $341,444 
  • Down payment value: $68,289 
  • Median income (two-person family): $120,208 
  • Needs 60% / Wants 21% / Savings 20% 
  1. Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Time to save for a down payment: 2 years, 11 months 
  • Median starter home price: $151,092 
  • Down payment value: $30,218 
  • Median income (two-person family): $75,282 
  • Needs 68% / Wants 19% / Savings 14% 
  1. Akron, Ohio
  • Time to save for a down payment: 3 years, 1 month 
  • Median starter home price: $104,637 
  • Down payment value: $20,927 
  • Median income (two-person family): $70,806 
  • Needs 71% / Wants 20% / Savings 9% 
  1. Decatur, Illinois
  • Time to save for a down payment: 3 years, 2 months 
  • Median starter home price: $46,696 
  • Down payment value: $9,339 
  • Median income (two-person family): $69,248 
  • Needs 76% / Wants 20% / Savings 4% 
  1. Naples, Florida
  • Time to save for a down payment: 3 years, 3 months 
  • Median starter home price: $262,944 
  • Down payment value: $52,589 
  • Median income (two-person family): $93,477 
  • Needs 68% / Wants 15% / Savings 17% 

Click here to view the original data on RentCafe.com. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at kyle.horst@thefivestar.com.
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