Where can the middle class afford to buy a home today? Affordability has worsened in the past year, as home prices have climbed faster than incomes and mortgage rates have risen. But compared with the longer-term past, homeownership still looks relatively affordable. Homes are still undervalued, and mortgage rates remain near historic lows. In most U.S. markets, the majority of homes for sale are within reach of the middle class, and buying is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metros.
In many markets, however, especially along the coasts, homeownership is out of reach for the middle class. There’s no easy way to make housing more affordable, though new construction can help.
Using Trulia’s latest Middle Class Report, we calculated the share of for-sale homes on Trulia that are affordable to a middle-class household, based on whether the total monthly payment including mortgage, insurance and property taxes was less than 31 percent of the metro area’s median household income. Because we define “middle class” separately for each metro based on the local median household income, our affordability measure takes into account that a middle-class income is higher in some markets than in others.
More than four of five homes for sale in Detroit and Cleveland are within reach of the middle class, compared with one out of four in New York and Los Angeles and one out of seven in San Francisco. Middle-class affordability is worsening in expensive markets and won’t improve long-term without more construction.
Check out Trulia’s list of the 10 most and least affordable housing markets for today’s middle class.
- MSN Money: 9 ways to know if you’re middle class