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Buyers Need a Six-Figure Salary To Afford a Median-Priced Home in 22 States, Study Finds

Buyers Need a Six-Figure Salary To Afford a Median-Priced Home in 22 States, Study Finds

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Required Annual Income Jumps 46% in Four Years According to Bankrate Analysis

A new study has analyzed what high home prices mean for buyers — and their incomes.

In short: Aspiring homeowners need to make a lot more to afford a house in 2024 than before the pandemic, according to analysis by the personal finance website Bankrate.

The analysis found buyers need to earn six figures to afford a median-priced home in 22 states and Washington, D.C., Four years ago, that figure stood at six states and the District of Columbia.

A median-priced home costs $402,343, according to Bankrate. To afford that price, buyers need an annual income of $110,871 — a 46% increase since the beginning of 2020 when homebuyers only needed an annual income of $76,191.

“Home values are near record highs, and if you want a house, you have little choice but to pay a high price,” Jeff Ostrowski, Bankrate’s housing market analyst, said in a statement.

In January, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index clocked a 6% annual increase, according to a report released on March 26. The index climbed 5.6% month over month.

The report marked the second consecutive month showing an annual increase in prices.

As of the week ended March 28, the 30-year-fixed rate mortgage averaged 6.79%, up from its 6.32% average at the same time in 2023, according to Freddie Mac data.

Homebuyers in the West and Northeast need the highest incomes, according to Bankrate. That's correlated with higher home prices in Western and Northeastern states and lower home prices in Southern and Midwestern states.

For buyers in California, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts, a “typical home” requires an annual salary between $156,814 and $197,057. Buyers in the South and Midwest need the least income. To buy a home in Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky, buyers only need an annual salary between $63,043 and $65,186.

Since 2020, the annual income necessary to buy a home has increased the most in Montana at 77.7%, Utah at 70.3%, Tennessee at 70.1%, South Carolina at 67.3%, and Arizona at 65.3%.

The smallest increases since 2020 were in North Dakota at 9.2%, the District of Columbia at 24.6%, Louisiana at 24.9%, Illinois at 27.2%, and Kansas at 29.3%.

Affordability Challenge

Prices are the biggest problem facing prospective homebuyers.

“Affordability is the biggest issue — finding a home that’s in your budget,” Ostrowski said. “The higher the price of a home, the harder it is to come up with the down payment or to qualify for the monthly payment.”

The challenge is mostly attributable to the disparity between wages and home prices, according to Bankrate.

Compounding that issue is a surge in mortgage rates and a shortage of homes listed for sale.

“Over the past few years, the supply of homes has been constrained by a number of factors, including muted homebuilding and the lock-in effect,” according to Ostrowski. “But demand for homes has been growing, and there are more buyers than sellers.”

Buyers in search of more affordable options should consider the Rust Belt and Sun Belt, the “most affordable regions in the country for housing.”

The decades long trend of migration shifts to the Sun Belt has made housing more expensive than it once was, but it is still a good option for “long-term homeowners,” Ostrowski said. Bargain hunters can also find affordable markets in the Midwest.

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