affordability

Attom Data Solutions released the results of its Q1 2018 U.S. Home Affordability Report, which showed that average wage earners ($57,009) could not afford a median-priced home in 68 percent of U.S. counties (304 out of 446).

Attom determined “affordability” by calculating the amount of income needed to make monthly house payments — including mortgage, property taxes and insurance — on a median-priced home with a 3 percent down payment and a 28 percent maximum “front-end” debt-to-income ratio.

One thing the study did not take into account was how these wage earners would fare if they were buying a house with a partner who may bring more income to the table. Wage data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was used to determine average income for one person. (Similar data “is not available for a two-income household,” explained an Attom spokesperson.) According to the National Association of Realtors, 66 percent of recent buyers were married couples, and eight percent were unmarried couples, meaning only about a quarter of recent buyers purchased a home on their own.

High home prices are a catalyst for migration

In response to rapid home price growth, the report revealed that average wage earners are quickly leaving coastal metros for more affordable locales in the West and South.

“Home affordability continues to be a symptom relating to a cultural divide of wage earners,” First Team Real Estate president Michael Mahon told Attom.

“Median wage earners are finding coastal communities unaffordable across Southern California, which is driving migration of the consumer population to create housing demand booms in such counties as Riverside County — recently recognized as one of the fastest growing counties in the state,” he added.

California and New York experienced the highest negative net migrations with 29,246 residents leaving New York’s Kings (Brooklyn) and New York (Manhattan) counties, and 9,309 residents leaving California’s Santa Clara (San Jose) and…