Purchasing a home is widely considered one of life’s milestones. While home prices have risen faster than incomes in recent years, prospective buyers willing to relocate — even within their state — can still find very affordable options.
To identify the county with the least expensive housing market in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median home prices as of the fourth quarter of 2016 from the National Association of Realtors. Nationwide, the typical home costs $235,000. Cochran County, Texas has the cheapest housing market of the 3,119 counties measured. The typical home there sells for only $36,803.
Broadly speaking, counties in Southern and Midwestern states tend to have cheaper housing markets than those in Western and Northeastern states. In fact, of the 100 counties with the cheapest housing markets nationwide, 98 are located in the South or Midwest.
Home values are in part determined by the desirability of the housing market, and low prices are often a sign that few people want to live in these areas. The cheapest markets tend to be far from large metropolitan areas, where housing demand is higher.
In all 50 counties — each with the cheapest housing market in its respective state — the typical household earns less than the statewide median income. However, because homes are so cheap in these areas, they are surprisingly affordable.
Once households have saved enough for a down payment in these counties, they generally need strikingly low incomes to qualify for a home loan. Assuming a 10% down payment, in 20 of these counties, an individual earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would make enough working full-time to qualify for a mortgage on the area’s typical home. In seven of the counties on this list, the typical home is so cheap that even a person living below the poverty line could qualify for a home loan.
Because homes are so affordable in these areas, homeownership rates in the large majority of counties on this list are higher compared to the respective states.
To determine the county with the least expensive housing market in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median home prices in the 3,199 county and county-equivalents as aggregated by the National Association of Realtors for the fourth quarter of 2016. Monthly payments and qualifying income with a 10% down payment for the median home price for the same time period were calculated using the NAR’s methodology and assume a fixed 30-year mortgage with a 4.0% interest rate. Median household incomes for each county come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Consumer Survey.
This is the county with the least expensive housing market in every state.