A couple of months ago, Unison.com posted its latest Home Affordability Report, covering housing costs for the year 2017. The results can be discouraging. Housing prices are prohibitively expensive across the country, especially in urban areas.
Least affordable is San Francisco, with the median required yearly income for home buyers coming in at $92,501. Other cities are hardly better: New York’s median is at $74,397; Seattle is at $75,822; Boston is at $84,955; and Minneapolis is at $74,490. Homeowners in many other cities require a median income of somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000. In the $60,000 – $70,000 range are Los Angeles, Portland, Dallas, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City, along with others. The $50,000 – $60,000 range includes Miami, Atlanta, Nashville, Boise, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. New Orleans, at $49,000 is on the cheaper end of the scale, but that’s still unaffordable to many of those searching the market.
These were all calculated assuming buyers were closing the deal with a 10% downpayment. A smaller down payment causes costs to go up. Homeowners who want to save themselves high mortgage costs can get some relief by saving up to pay a higher down payment. With 10% down, a home buyer in Dallas with a medium income of $61,033 can afford a house with the maximum price of $368,009. With 20% down, that same homebuyer can own a house with a maximum price of $440,623.
Of course, rental costs aren’t much better. The average rental cost in Los Angeles is nearing $2,000; in Chicago it’s $1,670; and in New York it’s almost $3,000. The average rental cost in Boston is just a bit over $2,000, although it has declined modestly in recent months.
Still, homebuying looks to be a distant dream for many city residents. Despite the high cost of living, the median household income is only $55,909. Single homebuyers are even less likely to find a place in their price range: the per capita individual income in LA is only $27,749. In Chicago, the median household income is $63,153, but areas of it are much poorer. On the Near West Side alone, residents of tract 8331 earn a median income of almost $100,000, while residents of 2809 earn a median income of only slightly more than $10,000. And in future years, these numbers may only go up, as populations are expected to pour into cities in greater and greater numbers.