10 US Cities With the Most (and Least) Overleveraged Homeowners

April 19, 2018 by Paul Ausick

When buying a home, the most important numbers for mortgage lenders are the buyer’s credit score and the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. The first is a summary of how the buyer has been managing debt and the second indicates whether the lender can reasonably expect the borrower to be able to pay back the loan.

As home prices rise, however, mortgage loan sizes typically rise as well, and if incomes don’t keep up, home buyers may obtain a mortgage loan that could become a real albatross in the event of an unexpected medical expense, job loss or some other black swan event.

Not only are homes getting more expensive, mortgage interest rates are rising as well and are likely to do so over the course of this year. That means the cost of owning a home and paying the mortgage is rising, and if your income is not rising as well, qualifying for a mortgage is getting more difficult.

Consumer website WalletHub analyzed data from 2,530 U.S. cities and ranked them all on the basis of a “WalletHub Home Overleverage Score.” The score was derived from a city’s median mortgage debt, median house value, median income, mortgage debt-to-income ratio and mortgage debt-to-house value ratio.

The 10 U.S. cities with the highest overleverage scores are:

  1. Willis, Texas: 65.77
  2. Ewa Beach, Hawaii: 65.33
  3. Dumfries, Virginia: 65.29
  4. Kahului, Hawaii: 63.66
  5. Santa Ana, California: 62.30
  6. Lahaina, Hawaii: 62.20
  7. Watsonville, California: 58.35
  8. Bell Gardens, California: 56.35
  9. Vista, California: 55.72
  10. Richmond, Texas: 55.51

Using Santa Ana, California, as an example, here are the numbers:

  • Median mortgage debt: $278,998
  • Median house value: $391,000
  • Median income: $28,586
  • Mortgage debt-to-income ratio: 976%
  • Mortgage debt-to-house value ratio: 71%

The 10 U.S. cities that are the least overleveraged and their scores are:

  1. Bronxville, New York: 1.54
  2. Decatur, Georgia: 4.59
  3. Homosassa, Florida: 6.10
  4. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: 7.57
  5. Scarsdale, New York: 8.00
  6. Naples, Florida: 8.74
  7. East St. Louis, Illinois: 11.31
  8. Darlington, South Carolina: 11.75
  9. Chester, Pennsylvania: 12.01
  10. Gulf Breeze, Florida: 12.18

The breakdown for Bronxville looks like this:

  • Median mortgage debt: $252,122
  • Median house value: $1.15 million
  • Median income: $150,388
  • Mortgage debt-to-income ratio: 168%
  • Mortgage debt-to-house value ratio: 22%

For the full list and more details on the methodology, visit the WalletHub website.