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You need to earn at least $100K to afford a typical home in these states: analysis


(NEXSTAR) — Decades ago, buying a home for $100,000 or less was the norm. Today, you need to earn at least $100,000 just to afford a “typical” home, according to a new analysis. 

Data tracked by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows the average sales price for homes sold in the U.S. was $492,300 last quarter, down from $552,600 a year prior. While there are signs of improvement, home sale prices are nowhere near where they were 40 years ago: in Q4 of 1984, the average sales price for houses sold nationwide was $97,800.

The U.S. has, of course, seen countless impacts on its economy in the decades since. Even the housing market has experienced major changes within the last few years, with mortgage rates rising and home prices soaring in the midst of a hot housing market brought on early in the COVID pandemic. 

All of those factors are making home buying more expensive, a new report explains. In an analysis published Monday, Bankrate found that to afford a median-price home in the U.S. — which is about $402,300 — you need an annual income of nearly $110,900. Compared to the last four years, that’s a roughly 50% increase, the report says.

In 2020, you’d need to earn at least $100,000 annually to afford a median-priced home in six states and the District of Columbia. According to Bankrate’s latest analysis, that tally is up to 22 states and the District of Columbia.

“Affordability is the biggest issue — finding a home that’s in your budget,” Bankrate housing market analyst Jeff Ostrowski said. “The higher the price of a home, the harder it is to come up with the down payment or to qualify for the monthly payment. Home values are near record highs, and if you want a house, you have little choice but to pay a high price.”

After reviewing Redfin sale price data, as well as property tax data and insurance rates, Bankrate found potential homeowners in the West and Northeast need the greatest income to afford the typical home, while those in the South and Midwest require the least income. 

As it often does, California topped out the list: Bankrate determined you would need to earn just over $197,000 annually to afford a median-priced home. In nearby Hawaii, a salary of more than $185,800 is necessary. In Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, the income needed to afford a typical home ranges from $156,800 to $167,900, respectively.

In addition to the five places listed above, Bankrate found you’ll need an income of at least $100,000 to afford a median-price home in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Rhode Island, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Connecticut, Florida, Vermont, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, and Texas.

While ranking among the most expensive regions, the District of Columbia saw one of the smaller changes in necessary income, increasing by 24.6% between 2020 and 2024. Only one other state, North Dakota, saw a smaller increase at 9.2%. 

Meanwhile, Tennessee saw a jump in necessary income. Bankrate determined residents in the Volunteer State would need to earn at least $94,000 annually to afford a median-priced home. In 2020, those wishing to buy a house a needed to make just over $55,000, according to the study.

North Dakota was not the most affordable, however, Bankrate determined that Mississippi requires the lowest annual salary for a median-priced home at slightly more than $63,000. The four other most affordable states were Ohio ($64,071), Arkansas ($64,714), Indiana ($65,143), and Kentucky ($65,186). 

The interactive map below shows the salary you’d need to earn to afford a median-priced home in each state, based on Bankrate’s analysis. By hovering over or clicking on a state, you can also see the annual income needed in January 2020. 

This analysis follows a trend Redfin found in an analysis released last year. 

When reviewing the annual income required to afford a median-priced home in the nation’s largest cities, seven California cities landed at the top of the list. San Francisco and San Jose were the most expensive, with both requiring incomes of more than $400,000. 

The cheapest cities, Redfin determined, were primarily in the Midwest and South. In Detroit, a homebuyer earning slightly less than $52,000 annually could still afford a median-priced home. 

If you’re a potential first-time homebuyer, you may feel like you’ve missed out on a hot housing market and are now stuck between an expensive one and rising rent. So how do you know when to keep renting and when to try the market?

⏩ Read today’s top stories on wkrn.com

“There is no ‘perfect time’ in real estate,” Chris Varsek, the lead real estate agent with The Varsek Team in Illinois, recently told News 2’s parent company, Nexstar, via email. While there are benefits and drawbacks to both, it’s likely most important to consider the finances of it all, he added. 

If you’re not quite ready to purchase your first (or a new) home, Varsek recommends clearing as much debt as you can before shopping around for homes, ensuring your credit score is in a good place, and setting aside enough to afford at least a 5% down payment. It isn’t just your finances that you’ll want to get in order. 

“In this market, education is critical. Find a trusted local realtor that can walk you through the entire purchasing process,” Varsek explained. “A great agent should be able to field all of your questions. As they say, knowing is half the battle!” 

According to experts, while the housing market could be better this year compared to 2023, don’t expect to see the low rates we saw in 2020 and 2021.



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