Special Report

The 10 Least Affordable Housing Markets in America

10. Los Angeles County, Calif.
> Affordability rate: 50.0%
> Historical avg. affordability: 50.4%
> Household median income: $56,241
> Population density: 2,437.0 per sq. mile

Los Angeles County homes are among the least affordable in the nation for its residents. A typical Los Angeles family needed to spend half its income to pay for a median-priced home, which included mortgage payments and property taxes. As unaffordable as Los Angeles homes currently are, however, they are actually in line with the area’s historical average for affordability since January 2000. While Los Angeles homes were more affordable during the housing downturn and subsequent recovery, they have become less affordable recently.


9. Taos County, N.M.
> Affordability rate: 51.0%
> Historical avg. affordability: 53.5%
> Household median income: $33,835
> Population density: 14.9 per sq. mile

Skiing, the arts and Native American culture are among the attractions that lure visitors to Taos County. Its status as a seasonal destination may be one reason homes in the area are often unaffordable. While Taos is home to many high-end properties, residents are hardly among the wealthiest Americans. Between 2008 and 2012, the median household income in Taos County was just under $34,000. To afford payments on a typical county home, households require more than half the median household income in the area. This is nothing new. Since 2000, the percentage of median income needed to afford a median-priced home in the area has averaged roughly 53%, among the highest rates in the country.

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8. Marin County, Calif.
> Affordability rate: 56.1%
> Historical avg. affordability: 59.4%
> Household median income: $90,962
> Population density: 490.2 per sq. mile

Marin County is connected to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. While some parts of the county are quite urban, with many residents commuting to San Francisco, other parts are quite rural. Marin is one of three counties among the 10 least affordable that is located in the San Francisco metro area. In 2013, the area’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the nation. San Francisco was also among the most productive cities in the nation, ranking seventh in economic output among all U.S. metro areas. As of May, residents needed to earn 56% of the area’s median household income to afford a mortgage on an area’s median-priced home. This is despite the fact that Marin is among the wealthiest counties in the United States, with a median household income of $90,962 between 2008 and 2012.