With home prices rising in most major metros across the United States for the past decades—in some cases posting double-digit gains year-over-year—the American Dream of homeownership may begin to feel elusive. However, Unison, a homeownership investment firm, maintains there are pockets of affordability in every major metro market.
A combination of factors is seemingly putting homeownership out of reach for many Americans. Not only are home prices rising, but student debt and climbing rents are also taking a toll on potential down payment savings for many.
However, the dream of homeownership, at least, is alive and well, according to Unison, which cites Ellie Mae data stating that 91 percent of millennials intend to own a home one day.
Unison compared home price and home income data across major metros to determine the salary necessary to purchase a median-priced home, and the number of years it would take to save for a down payment on a median-priced home with a median-priced salary. Not only did Unison look at metro areas as a whole, it also zeroed in on city-level data to determine the most affordable areas in major metros.
The least affordable metro in the nation, according to Unison’s data, is San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, where residents need to earn $231,216 to purchase a median-priced home with a 10 percent down payment. At the median salary, it would take a San Francisco metro resident 20 years to save for a 10 percent down payment on a median-priced home.
The second- and third-least affordable metros were Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and San Diego-Carlsbad, where salaries of $157,728 and $139,130, respectively, put a median-priced home within reach.
In the Los Angeles metro, it would take 19 years for a resident earning the median salary to save enough for a 10 percent down payment on a median-priced home. In the San Diego metro, residents would need to save for 16 years to put 10 percent down on a median-priced home in the market.
Homebuyers fare much better in Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, where they need to earn a salary of $35,909 to purchase a median-priced home with a 10-percent down payment. Following on the list of most affordable markets are Kansas City, Missouri, where the required salary is $40,869; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida, where residents need to earn $43,978.
In the Detroit and Kansas City metros, it would take residents earning the median salary just five years to save for a 10 percent down payment on a median-priced home. In the Tampa metro, it would take about seven years. While Dallas, Texas, ranked a little lower for affordability, it would take median-income residents only six years to save for a down payment on a home in their market.
However, “While home prices overall have increased, there remain neighborhoods in every metro area that are relatively affordable and every metro area offers solid housing options for almost all types of home buyers,” according to Benjamin Feldman, Director of Content at Unison, with the release of Unison’s 2018 Home Affordability Report.
In fact, the entire San Francisco Bay area has experienced “a dizzying rise in home prices,” and even the “potentially affordable neighborhoods” in the area have median home values above seven figures.
“If one city has embodied the staggering increase of California home prices this decade, it’s San Francisco,” Unison said in its report.
On the other hand, in the Dallas metro a salary of $52,000 is necessary to purchase a median-priced home with a 10 percent down payment, but in Dallas city proper, the salary necessary drops to about $49,000.
In already affordable Kansas City, the salary required to purchase a median-priced home drops from $40,869 for the metro area down to just $29,036 in Kansas City proper.
For more information on potentially affordable neighborhoods in major metros, read Unison’s full report here.
Krista Franks Brock is a writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing industries since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.