House prices might be rising, but buying a home is still affordable in these markets

October 7, 2019 - 2 min read

Bright spots for house prices

House prices have been rising steadily for a while now, but there are still some pockets of affordability for would-be homebuyers. In fact, in 39 percent of U.S. markets, it’s actually more affordable to buy a home than ever before.

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Where house prices are out-besting history

According to new stats from ATTOM Data Solutions, about 39 percent of U.S. markets are more affordable than their historic averages.

At the top of the list is Onslow County, North Carolina (home to Jacksonville), where homes are 30 percent more affordable than historical averages.

Other affordable bright spots include Clark County, Kentucky (28 percent more affordable); Atlantic County, New Jersey (27 percent); Cumberland County, New Jersey (26 percent); Litchfield County, Connecticut (24 percent); and Warren County, New Jersey (24 percent).

Looking at local median wages, buyers need to spend the least in Calhoun County, Michigan. There, median earners will spend just 14 percent of their weekly wages to buy a house. Nearby Wayne County is almost equally as affordable.

Half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rents

The wrong end of history

It’s not all good news, though. Over 61 percent of markets are actually less affordable than historic averages, and in 67 percent of counties, median-earning buyers need to spend at least 30 percent of their wages to buy a home.

Average mortgage payments slide for the first time in years

Affordability has decreased the most in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where houses are 42 percent less affordable than historical averages. They’re also significantly less affordable in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania; Genesee County, Michigan; Delaware County, Indiana; and Saginaw County, Michigan.

“If there is any silver lining to the picture, it’s that mortgage rates have fallen back to historic lows,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM. “That’s softening the blow of rising prices and actually making homeownership a bit more attainable in most areas of the country.”

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Aly J. Yale
Authored By: Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Aly J. Yale is a mortgage and real estate writer based in Houston who has contributed to Forbes and worked for organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, PBS, NBC, and Radio Disney.