Where You Can Afford a Home If You Make Less Than $100K

May 22, 2024 - 2 min read

Oases in the affordability desert

If you’re like many house hunters right now, affordability can be a major roadblock to homeownership.

In addition to the ongoing supply-demand imbalance keeping home prices elevated, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage hovered around 7% for much of 2024.

Some housing markets offer oases in this affordability desert. A Realtor.com report found the median-priced home can be bought with incomes under $100,000 in 14 of the 50 largest metro areas.

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For affordable homes, look to the Rust Belt

It’s a relatively tough time to be a prospective home buyer. With the swift pace of property value growth over the last few years, it may feel like only the wealthy can buy homes.

In April, the nationwide median listing price reached $429,950 and a borrower would need to annually make $116,000 to comfortably purchase a typical home, according to Realtor.com. But out of the 50 largest U.S. housing markets, you can afford the median home with an income below $100,000 in 14 — or 28% — of them.

“Homeownership is possible if you don’t earn six figures. In these areas, prices are low enough that, even with high mortgage rates, prices aren’t out of reach,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

For its report, Realtor.com analyzed the April 2024 median listing prices in the 50 largest U.S. housing markets. To determine the median required income to purchase a home, it assumed a 20% down payment, a 6.99% interest rate, local taxes and insurance rates.

Pittsburgh led the rankings by only needing a household income of $67,000 to afford a median-priced home in the area. Detroit closely followed at $69,000 and Cleveland rounded out the top three at $71,000.

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Among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, the table below shows the 14 where the median-priced home is affordable with a household income of $100,000 or less in April, according to Realtor.com.

RankHousing MarketMedian household income needed to buyMedian list priceIncome-to-price ratioActive listing count annual growth
4Birmingham, Ala.$75,000$297,00025.25%36.50%
5Buffalo, N.Y.$79,000$285,00027.72%5.10%
6St. Louis$82,000$294,00027.89%16.60%
7Rochester, N.Y.$87,000$295,00029.49%-1.20%
8Louisville, Ky.$87,000$327,00026.61%24.90%
10New Orleans$90,000$335,00026.87%29.60%
11Memphis, Tenn.$91,000$339,00026.84%39.20%
13Oklahoma City$98,000$330,00029.70%34.10%
Source: April 2024 housing data from Realtor.com
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Advice for home buyers

While purchasing property with a salary below $100,000 can be difficult, there are plenty of cities more conducive to lower budgets and first-time buyers.

You may also qualify for financial assistance programs and grants to boost your buying power. Plus, knowing how to negotiate your mortgage rate can save you big bucks over the course of your loan.

If you’re ready to begin your path to homeownership, speak with a local mortgage lender today.

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Paul Centopani
Authored By: Paul Centopani
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Paul Centopani is a writer and editor who started covering the lending and housing markets in 2018. Previous to joining The Mortgage Reports, he was a reporter for National Mortgage News. Paul grew up in Connecticut, graduated from Binghamton University and now lives in Chicago after a decade in New York and the D.C. area.
Aleksandra Kadzielawski
Reviewed By: Aleksandra Kadzielawski
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Aleksandra is the Senior Editor at The Mortgage Reports, where she brings 10 years of experience in mortgage and real estate to help consumers discover the right path to homeownership. Aleksandra received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. She is also a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).