Sky-high mortgage rates and rising home prices have made it more difficult than ever, especially for first-time home buyers, Redfin said in the report, which was released Tuesday.
The average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan rose to 7.57% from 7.49% last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said earlier this month. It’s the highest level in more than two decades.
To afford a median-priced U.S. home now, Redfin said buyers must earn $114,627, up 15% ($15,285) from a year ago and up more than 50% since the start of the pandemic. The real estate website said a typical household earns about $40,000 less than that.
“Hourly wages have risen in 2023, but not nearly as fast as the income necessary to afford a home is rising: The average U.S. hourly wage has increased by about 5% over the last year,” Redfin reported.
“In a homebuyer’s ideal world, rising mortgage rates would push demand and home prices down enough to make up for high-interest payments. But that’s not what’s happening now: Although new listings are ticking up slightly, inventory is still near record lows as homeowners hang onto their low mortgage rates – and that’s propping up prices,” said Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao.
With a median home sale price of more than $1.48 million, you’ll need the greatest annual income — $404,332 — in San Francisco. When ranked based on the necessary income for homebuyers, seven California cities ranked at the top of the list. After San Francisco, it was San Jose, Anaheim, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles and Oxnard.
Another West Coast city, Seattle, also landed in the top 10, followed by New York City and Boston.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you’ll want to shop in the Midwest. Detroit had the lowest necessary annual income in Redfin’s report at $51,793: a median home costs just less than $190,000 in the Michigan city. Three Ohio cities — Akron, Dayton and Cleveland — were close behind, all requiring an income of around $60,000.
The interactive table below shows the annual income you’d need to earn to afford a median-priced home in the largest U.S. metros, as well as the median home-sale price, courtesy of Redfin.
Redfin said the data is based on an analysis that compared median monthly mortgage payments in August 2023 and August 2022. To be considered affordable, a homebuyer must spend no more than 30% of their income on housing.
The elevated rates combined with a near-historic low level of homes for sale nationally has worsened homebuyers’ affordability crunch by keeping home prices near all-time highs even as sales of previously occupied U.S. homes have fallen 21% through the first eight months of this year versus the same stretch in 2022.
“Though buyers have shown signs of adjusting to the higher-rate environment, limited inventory has kept home prices elevated, cutting further into the buying power of shoppers hoping to find a suitable home,” said Hannah Jones, senior economic research analyst at Realtor.com.
If you are looking to buy a home, Zhao recommends thinking outside the box.
“Consider a condo or townhouse, which are less expensive than a single-family home, and/or consider moving to a more affordable part of the country or a more affordable suburb.”
Mortgage rates have been climbing along with the 10-year Treasury yield, which lenders use as a guide to pricing loans. Investors’ expectations for future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasurys and what the Fed does with interest rates can influence rates on home loans.
The central bank has already pulled its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 in hopes of extinguishing high inflation, and it indicated last month it may cut rates by less next year than earlier expected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.