RealtyTrac’s Home Affordability Index shows that 18% of United States housing markets were less affordable than their historically normal levels in Q2 2016.
That’s a jump from 5% of markets reported in the previous quarter, but down from the 20% reported one year ago.
What makes a home affordable?
A few factors come into play, ranging from how much you earn and the competition of your city. The affordability index is based on the percentage of average wages needed to make monthly house payments on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate and a 3 percent down payment — including property taxes and insurance.
The report analyzed median home prices derived from publicly recorded sales deed data. RealtyTrac collected average wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 417 U.S. counties with a combined population of nearly 210 million. The affordability index was based on the percentage of average wages needed to make monthly house payments on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate and a 3 percent down payment. The analysis accounts for property taxes, home insurance and mortgage insurance.
In many markets, buying a home is drastically less affordable than it used to be. However, it ranges across the country. Let’s check out the RealtyTrac report.
Kings County, New York (Brooklyn, anyone?) was the least affordable by the absolute standard of percentage of wages needed to buy a median-priced home. Essentially, it takes 121.7 percent of average weekly wages to buy a median-priced home in Brooklyn. The Californian regions of Marin County, Santa Cruz County, and San Francisco County followed close behind. The most affordable counties were Clayton County, Georgia (Atlanta). In Clayton, it takes 10.4 percent of average weekly wages to buy a median-priced home. Wayne County, Michigan in the Detroit metro area and Baltimore City, Maryland are also considered affordable.
“Although nearly one in five U.S. housing markets was not affordable by historic standards in the second quarter, the good news is that affordability is improving compared to a year ago in the majority of markets thanks to a combination of slowing home price appreciation and accelerating wage growth, along with falling interest rates,” RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist said. Buying a home is always an investment, but real estate ownership should have the option to be a reality for folks instead of a dream.