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Redfin Reports That Homebuyers Must Earn $115,000 to Afford the Typical U.S. Home—About $40,000 More Than the Typical American Household Earns

October 17, 2023 8:00 AM

Sky-high mortgage rates and still-rising home prices have made it harder than ever to afford a home, especially for first-time buyers

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- (NASDAQ: RDFN) — A homebuyer must earn $114,627 to afford the median-priced U.S. home, up 15% ($15,285) from a year ago and up more than 50% since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. That’s the highest annual income necessary to afford a home on record.

“In a homebuyer’s ideal world, rising mortgage rates would push demand and home prices down enough to make up for high interest payments. But that’s not what’s happening now: Although new listings are ticking up slightly, inventory is still near record lows as homeowners hang onto their low mortgage rates—and that’s propping up prices,” said Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao. “Buyers—particularly first-timers who are committed to getting into a home now—should think outside the box. Consider a condo or townhouse, which are less expensive than a single-family home, and/or consider moving to a more affordable part of the country, or a more affordable suburb.”

Housing costs are higher than ever because of the one-two punch of sky-high mortgage rates and rising home prices. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 7.07% in August. Mortgage rates have climbed even higher since then, hitting 7.57% during the week ending October 12—their highest level in over two decades. But even though soaring mortgage rates have dampened demand, low inventory is causing home prices to increase. The typical U.S. home sold for about $420,000 in August, up 3% year over year and just about $12,000 shy of the all-time high hit in mid-2022.

The typical U.S. homebuyer’s monthly mortgage payment is $2,866, an all-time high. That’s up 20% from $2,395 a year earlier, and by that time payments had already increased substantially from the beginning of the pandemic, a time of ultra-low mortgage rates and yet-to-skyrocket home prices. In August 2020, for instance, the typical monthly payment was $1,581, based on that month’s average mortgage rate of 2.94% and median home price of $329,000. At that time, a homebuyer would have needed to earn $75,000 per year to afford the typical home.

The typical American household earns about $40,000 less than the income needed to buy a median-priced home. The median household income was roughly $75,000 in 2022, the most recent year for which annual income data is available. Hourly wages have risen in 2023, but not nearly as fast as the income necessary to afford a home is rising: The average U.S. hourly wage has increased by about 5% over the last year.

Affordability is less of a problem for all-cash and move-up buyers. Buyers who can afford to pay cash aren’t impacted by high mortgage rates, and they likely earn more than the income necessary to purchase a home, anyway. Buyers who are selling a home to buy another one are in a better boat than first-timers because they have likely built up equity in their current home, which takes a bit of the sting out of soaring monthly payments. The caveat to the caveat is those who bought at the height of the pandemic-era market with an ultra-low mortgage rate and need to sell now: Not only are they giving up a low rate, they also may have lost money on their home.

Metro-level highlights: Income needed to buy a home has risen in all major metros, with biggest uptick in Miami and smallest in Austin

August 2023, analysis includes 100 most populous U.S. metros for which sufficient data is available

To view the full report, including a chart, a metro-level breakdown and methodology, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/news/homebuyer-income-afford-home-record-high/

About Redfin

Redfin (www.redfin.com) is a technology-powered real estate company. We help people find a place to live with brokerage, rentals, lending, title insurance, and renovations services. We also run the country's #1 real estate brokerage site. Our home-buying customers see homes first with same day tours, and our lending and title services help them close quickly. Customers selling a home in certain markets can have our renovations crew fix up their home to sell for top dollar. Our rentals business empowers millions nationwide to find apartments and houses for rent. Customers who buy and sell with Redfin pay a 1% listing fee, subject to minimums, less than half of what brokerages commonly charge. Since launching in 2006, we've saved customers more than $1.5 billion in commissions. We serve more than 100 markets across the U.S. and Canada and employ over 5,000 people.

For more information or to contact a local Redfin real estate agent, visit www.redfin.com. To learn about housing market trends and download data, visit the Redfin Data Center. To be added to Redfin's press release distribution list, email [email protected]. To view Redfin's press center, click here.

Redfin Journalist Services:

Isabelle Novak, (414) 861-5861

[email protected]

Source: Redfin

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