Homeownership Costs Just 18% Of Income In These Top Counties — 4 Are In Illinois

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In an era of unaffordability marked by soaring home prices and persistent high mortgage rates, a handful of counties across the U.S. offer relative affordability for prospective homebuyers.

According to ATTOM’s Q2 2024 U.S. Home Affordability Report, homes remain less affordable than historical averages in 99% of counties analyzed. However, there are pockets where homeownership is within reach for many Americans. 

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The report evaluates affordability based on the percentage of average wages consumed by major homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance. Typically, lending guidelines suggest that those expenses should not exceed 28% of a homeowner’s income.

While the report indicates that median-priced homes are consuming 35.1% of average wages nationally — the highest level since 2007 — it found 10 counties with populations over 100,000 where those homeownership costs do not exceed 18% of a homeowner’s income.

Leading the list of most affordable counties is Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where typical housing costs consume just 12% of annualized wages. It’s followed closely by Macon County, Illinois, at 13.3%, and Peoria County, Illinois, at 14.6%.

The Illinois trend continues with Rock Island County and La Salle County, where homeownership costs account for 16.1% and 17.5% of annualized wages, respectively.

Other affordable counties include Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania; Mercer County, Pennsylvania; Wayne County, Michigan; Bibb County, Georgia; and Jefferson County, Alabama. Housing costs range from 14.6% to 17.3% of local wages in each area.

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The much-needed affordability in the above regions counters the most expensive markets, including Santa Cruz County, California, where housing costs consume 113.8% of annualized wages.

Other areas that command more than 100% of local wages to afford the typical home include Kings County, New York, at 111.8%, Marin County, California (109.2%), Maui County, Hawaii (105.9%), Orange County, California (103.4%), and Monterey County, California (100.5%).

“The latest affordability data presents a clear challenge for homebuyers. While home prices are increasing and mortgage rates remain relatively high, these factors are making homes less affordable,” ATTOM CEO Rob Barber said.

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According to the report, coastal and urban areas continue to see prices climb beyond the reach of many. However, smaller counties — often in the Midwest and parts of the South — present opportunities for those willing to consider relocation.

To comfortably afford the median-priced home as of the second quarter, a homebuyer would need an annual income of $90,598, which is 25.2% more than the average national wage of $72,358.

That is a barrier for many prospective homeowners, especially in areas where wages fall short of the median income. According to the report, annual wages exceeding $75,000 are necessary to manage major homeownership costs in 343 out of 589 markets analyzed, accounting for 58.2% of the regions studied. 

The 20 highest annual wages needed to afford a typical home are concentrated along the east and west coasts, led by San Mateo County, California, where a homebuyer would need an income of $418,928. New York County (Manhattan), New York follows at $407,393, with other expensive markets including Santa Clara County, California ($394,999), Marin County, California ($354,264), and San Francisco County, California ($339,981). 

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