We’ve all heard that the housing market is slowing down, giving buyers an edge that many of them believe is long overdue. But that doesn’t mean home prices are actually falling.
About 71% of housing markets were still unaffordable for workers earning average wages in the first quarter of 2019, according to a recent report from ATTOM Data Solutions. That’s down a little bit from the previous quarter, at 77%—but it’s still up from 68% a year earlier.
(The real estate data firm looked at how much average wage earners would need to make monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance payments on a median-priced home in 473 counties. The company assumed that they made a 3% down payment on the property with a 28% maximum debt-to-income ratio. Then ATTOM factored in median local wages.)
“We are seeing a housing market in flux across the United States,” ATTOM’s Chief Product Officer Todd Teta said in a statement. “[That’s] pricing many people out of the housing market, but also … creating potentially better conditions for buyers.”
What are the most affordable housing markets?
So where should average Joes and Janes look for homes of their own? Drum roll, please.
Bibb County, GA, home to the city of Macon, is a good place to start. This county, about 1.5 hours south of Atlanta, doesn’t boast the lowest prices in the nation, but it’s where folks spent the smallest share of their income on a home. The median home price in the county is just $141,165 as of Feb. 1, according to the most recent realtor.com® data.
Handy buyers can scoop up a single-family home in need of some work for around $10,000. That’s doable on a $38,183 median income, according to U.S. Census data from 2013 through 2017.
What are the least affordable housing markets?
On the other end of the spectrum are counties where folks are maxing themselves out to become homeowners.
Kings County, NY (aka Brooklyn), topped that list. The trendy hipster haven beat out neighboring Manhattan, whose residents tend to make more money and are better able to afford their homes. The median home price in Brooklyn was a steep $849,550. While Brooklyn is known for its drool-worthy brownstones and lofts, it has a wide range of housing, from single-family houses with yards to more modest homes and condos in less affluent areas.
Still, Manhattan (aka New York County) wasn’t far behind, earning the second spot on the list. The median price in the borough was nearly double that of Brooklyn, at $1,650,050.
It was followed by beachy Santa Cruz County, CA, just south of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, at $899,500; Marin County, CA, just north of San Francisco, at $1,249,550; and Maui County, HI, at $950,050.
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