Lending Tree, an online lending exchange, just completed its latest ranking for the top competitive housing markets among 100 major metro areas around the country.

Lending Tree identified three financial elements that make buying a home either difficult or easy in order to determine its rankings. The exchange used a database of 1.5M mortgage loan requests to gather and evaluate its findings.

The three financial elements Lending Tree used to determine whether it was difficult or easy to buy a home in a particular metro area were

– the share of buyers shopping for a mortgage before choosing a home.
– the average down payment percentage
– the % of buyers having prime credit.

Turns out that the most competitive housing market in the country according to Lending Tree’s rankings was San Francisco. Why? 60% of potential buyers in San Francisco shop for credit before they identify the home they want to buy. Additionally, 63% of those potential San Francisco buyers have prime credit. Potential San Francisco buyers also offer an average 18% down payment.

Row of Victorian houses in San Francisco.

San Jose came in as a close second. 59% of potential buyers in San Jose shop for credit prior to identifying the home they want to buy. 64% of them have prime credit and potential buyers in San Jose offer a 19% average down payment.

Rounding out the top five competitive housing markets among 100 major metros around the country are Denver, San Diego and Ventura.

The chief economist with Lending Tree, Tendayi Kafidze, believes that these top five metros are competitive because of the strength of tech driven economies. He also sees the growth of high paying jobs and highly valued companies in the Bay Area as spurring increased demand for housing sustainability.

Kafidze said, “The Bay Area is among the most restrictive building environments for new homes in the country, thus the increase in supply has lagged far behind rising demand. As a result, the market finds equilibrium by boosting prices and pushing some potential buyers out of the market. The remaining buyers are forced to stand out by increasing their attractiveness to sellers who have the discretion of who to sell to.”

In addition to buyers increasing their attractiveness to sellers by having their financing in place, building strong credit and putting down larger down payments, Kafidze recommends that buyers shop around for mortgages.

By shopping around for mortgages, the CFPB estimates that consumers would save some $13B/year. Based upon savings of $114/month for a $400,000 loan, savings on a home in the Bay Area would be at least twice that amount given its higher home prices.

The remaining Top 20 Competitive Housing Markets are
6. Los Angeles
7. Seattle
8. Honolulu
9. Portland
10. Sacramento
11. Boston
12. Boise
13. Phoenix
14. Madison
15. Las Vegas
16. Minneapolis
17. Austin
18. Miami
19. Sarasota
20. Washington DC