Bay Area housing prices fall hard on school teachers

As teachers face a host of health and safety challenges in the new school year, one constant remains — the Bay Area remains a brutal test for educators who want to buy a home.

Despite drawing one of the highest teacher salaries in the country, the typical educator in San Jose and Santa Clara County has a harder time affording a home than his or her peers anywhere in the United States. The East Bay and San Francisco are nearly as bad, according to an analysis by online broker Redfin.

Bay Area teachers would have roughly $225 to $1,200 a month left over for living expenses if they had a mortgage on a median-priced home, the study found. The study highlights a central Silicon Valley housing paradox: good public schools drive up home prices, while high home prices drive out teachers.

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said the Bay Area’s lack of affordable housing has pushed home prices beyond the budgets of many public employees. “You can give teachers more money,” Fairweather said, “but they’re still competing against tech workers with more income.”

The steady and sometimes rapid rise in Bay Area home prices since 2012 has far outstripped raises for public educators. A rush of pandemic home-buying this spring pushed the median price of a home in the nine-county region over $1 million. The rising costs have made it difficult in some districts to recruit and retain teachers and keep standards high, educators say.

The Redfin analysis measured how much disposable income a single teacher making the median salary in a U.S. metro would have left over after paying the mortgage on a typical house. It’s unlikely a single teacher in the Bay Area would qualify for a loan and make payments on a $1 million home without additional income, personal savings or family help.

The median home price in the San Jose metro is $1.2 million, and the median salary for a teacher is $90,300, according to the Redfin analysis. Mortgage payments on a Silicon Valley home would leave a single teacher with just $2,700 left for groceries and living expenses for a year. The typical U.S. teacher could buy a home and have more than 10 times the disposable income as a home-owning peer in San Jose.

Teachers in San Francisco and the East Bay have a median income of $85,700 and would have $14,900 left over annually for all other living expenses.

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