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ArlingtonThink local homes are costly? Look at California ...

Think local homes are costly? Look at California …

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The Washington region sits in the upper part of the middle of the pack when it comes to the household income needed to purchase a single-family home.

Washingtonians would need income ranging from $77,058 per year to $91,507 per year, depending on how much they put down, in order to afford a single-family home valued at the median $483,800 in the region, according to new fourth-quarter-of-2020 data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Those figures assume down payments of between 5 percent and 20 percent; the higher the down payment, the lower the income level needed in order to spend a manageable portion of household income on housing.

That compares to a national rate of $49,908 for a family to cover athe median $315,900 price via a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 20-year down payment. That figure was up slightly from $48,960 in the fourth quarter of 2019, as rising home-sales prices offset a decline in mortgage-interest rates.


Nationally, those putting down 10 percent would require an annual income of $56,147 to afford a typical home, while those plunking down just 5 percent would require $59,266 to meet the payments.

In a healthy majority of metro corridors – 130 of the 183 areas NAR tracked, or 71 percent – a family required less than $50,000 to pay their mortgage during the fourth quarter of 2020. However, in seven metro areas, NAR found that a family needed more than $100,000 in income to buy a house. They were San Jose ($222,989); San Francisco ($181,576); Anaheim ($148,925); Honolulu, Hawaii ($143,748); San Diego ($117,865); Los Angeles ($109,694); and Boulder ($105,330).

On the other side of the coin were places like Decatur, Ill., where an income of $16,071 would be enough, under current conditions, to afford a home at the median price of $100,900, given a 20-percent down payment. Even with just a 5-percent down payment, the income needed was just $19,048.

In Cumberland, Md., an income of $19,798 was enough to afford the median single-family home, given a down payment of 20 percent. (With a down-payment of 5 percent, that figure rose, but only to $23,510).Youngstown, Ohio, was another locality where an income of not much more than $20,000 would provide what was needed to afford a median-priced single-family home in the community. 

Areas where $30,000 was enough to cover the median-priced home included Bowling Green, Ky.; Beaumont, Texas; Akron, Ohio, Charleston, W.Va.; Datyon, Ohio; Elmira, N.Y.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Jackson, Miss.; Little Rock, Ark.; Montgomery, Ala.; Peoria, Ill.; Ocala, Fla.; Shreveport, La.; Springfield, Ill.; York, Pa.; and Oshkosh, Wisc.

On average, families typically spent 14.8 percent of income on mortgage payments based on a median family income of $84,313 in the fourth quarter, NAR officials said.

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