The Least Affordable Housing Market in America

Even as home prices have risen over the past two years, Americans have been able to be homebuyers because of historically low mortgage rates. That ended recently, as mortgage interest rates doubled from last year to over 6%. Some markets have become unaffordable because of the relationship between income and home prices. For current homeowners, the least affordable metropolitan area is San Francisco.

The Federal Reserve of Atlanta maintains a Metro Area Home Ownership Affordability Monitor that analyzes the ratio of median income to median home prices.

Americans have migrated from expensive coastal cities, such as New York and San Francisco, to less expensive ones inland, but the prices in those coastal cities oddly have stayed high. These inland metros had much lower median home prices, but the rapid influx of new people has lifted the price of a house at a brisk pace. As mentioned, the ability to buy homes was offset by low interest rates.

People could leave large cities because of the work-from-home option brought on by office closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these offices have not opened, which has allowed workers to relocate.

The Metro Area Home Ownership Affordability Monitor analysis shows that the least affordable markets continue to be on the coasts. On a scale in which the lowest number means the least affordable market, San Francisco posts the worst score at 36. Of the nine least affordable, eight are in California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Oxnard, Riverside, Sacramento and Stockton) and the ninth is New York City.

The cities at the far end of the list are older industrial cities. The most affordable is Toledo, with a score of 111.3.

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