Homeownership in the United States reached 63.6% this year, close to its lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking the data over 50 years ago, and down from a peak of 69.2% in 2004.
Fears about buying a home stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis likely have driven down home buying. So, too, has the ongoing shift of the American population to cities. Today, approximately 80% of Americans live in urban areas, compared with the 63% who did in 1960. For many Americans, homeownership in cities is prohibitively expensive, and becomes more so every day as available real estate is bought up and the housing market recovers.
This is not to say renting is a cheaper alternative. In many cities, rent on a three-bedroom apartment costs over half average monthly wages.
Nevertheless, even as real estate prices continue to rise, there remain many housing markets throughout the United States where homeownership and renting is very affordable. In these places, rent costs less than one-third of average wages, monthly payments are as low as 12.5% of wages, and the typical home costs a fraction the average U.S. sale price. Based on data provided by ATTOM Data Solutions and 24/7 Wall St.’s calculations, we identified the 25 counties where housing is the most affordable relative to average wages.