U.S. home prices in the third quarter were at the least affordable level since the third quarter of 2008—a 10-year low, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q3 2018 U.S. Home Affordability Report. Researchers calculate affordability based on the percentage of income needed to purchase a median-priced home compared to an area’s historic averages.
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Seventy-eight percent of the 440 U.S. counties analyzed had homes that were less affordable than the long-term affordability averages for the county.
Blame the drop in housing affordability on rising mortgage rates, economists say. “Rising mortgage rates have pushed home prices to the least affordable level we’ve seen in 10 years, both nationally and at the local level,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
Nearly one-third of the U.S. population now lives in counties where buying a median-priced home requires at least $100,000 in annual income, according to the report. “U.S. Census net migration data shows negative net migration in more than two-thirds of those highest-priced markets, while more than three-quarters of the markets requiring annual income less than $100,000 to buy a home posted positive net migration, indicating that home affordability is at least one factor driving recent migration patterns,” Blomquist says.
Some of the counties that are the least affordable to their relative long-term affordability averages, according to the report, are Denver County, Colo.; Arapahoe County, Colo. (Denver area); Tarrant County, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area); Kent County, Mich. (Grand Rapids area); and Jefferson County, Colo. (Denver area).
Home prices are rising faster than wages in most markets. The median home price of $250,000 in the third quarter was up 6 percent from a year ago and double the annual growth of the 3 percent in average wages, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ report.
The counties where prospective home buyers need to earn some of the most in the country to afford a median-priced home are led by five California Bay Area counties: San Mateo ($377,210 annual income needed to purchase a median-priced home); San Francisco ($366,582); Santa Clara ($327,284); Marin ($311,827); and Alameda ($237,760). Other counties outside of California where buyers need some of the most earnings are Westchester, N.Y. ($228,937) and Kings County (Brooklyn), N.Y. ($221,993).