Housing

The Most Affordable City to Own A Home

Home prices have skyrocketed in the last two years, although mortgage rate increases have slowed the increases down. Cities with relatively poor populations are the most affordable places to own a home. This list, based on new research, is topped by Toledo, Ohio, one of America’s dying industrial cities. It is also among U.S. cities that have lost substantial parts of their population over the last several decades. Its population was 383,000 in 1970. That figure has dropped by 100,000.

Nationwide prices have risen by 20% per month this year on a year-over-year basis according to the carefully followed S&P Case-Shiller home price index. This has happened for two reasons, primarily. One is that interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages were below 3%. This decreased monthly mortgage payments sharply compared to when they were above 4%. Recently, this affordability started to disappear, as mortgage rates have jumped above 6%, driven by the Federal Reserve’s rate increase meant to combat inflation.

The mobility of the American population was driven up by the COVID-19 pandemic. Offices across the nation closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Many have remained shuttered. This has allowed people to work from home and to move to cities they find more attractive than where they lived before. Home prices in these metro areas have jumped due to demand. Much of this movement was from America’s least affordable housing markets, large coastal metros like New York and San Francisco.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve issues a monthly report called Home Ownership Affordability Monitor. The measurements include the median income in each city contrasted with the median home price. Further, the model’s yardstick is based on 30% of owner income contrasted to housing costs. The better the ratio, the more affordable the market. Affordable markets have an index of 100 or above. Only a few cities make this cut-off. The lease affordable cities have an index below 50.

Toledo has an index of 111.3. Toledo has a population of 268,000. According to the Census, the median household income in the city is about $39,000, well below the national figure. The median price of an owner-occupied home is $84,000, also well below the national number.

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