Detailed Findings & Methodology
While a resident can typically find an apartment to rent that is significantly cheaper than the average area rent, this is not necessarily true for buying a home. Cheap homes are rarely available in places like Manhattan or Silicon Valley, so owning a home is typically reserved for top earners. In San Francisco, for example, most of the 290 homes purchased in the first quarter of 2017 sold for more than $1,000,000. This is completely out of reach for someone earning the average area monthly wage of $8,200.
Housing costs generally reflect the desirability of an area, and while expensive markets can be a downside for residents, they can be indicative of a nice place to live with a strong economy and job market. In the vast majority of these markets, higher education is common, unemployment and poverty rates are low, and life expectancy is high.
While these areas are the least affordable housing markets in America, they are all more affordable today than they were just before the mortgage crisis.
To identify the least affordable housing markets, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed home and rental affordability for 379 U.S. counties with at least 100 home sales in the first quarter of 2017 based on an analysis of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data by ATTOM Data Solutions. We calculated an average of the homeownership and rental affordability measures in each county, weighted by the percentages of owner- and renter-occupied housing units in the area.
Monthly homeownership costs, median fair market rent and wage data also came from ATTOM. Median homeownership cost is the monthly house payment for a median-priced home (based on a 3% down payment and including mortgage, property tax, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance.)