Here's How Much Money You Need To Make To Buy A Home In 27 Major Cities

In a few cities in the Rust Belt, you can afford to buy a house while making less than $40,000. In San Francisco, you'll need to quadruple that.
In San Francisco, a household income of $150,000 still isn't enough to afford the median home price.
In San Francisco, a household income of $150,000 still isn't enough to afford the median home price.
Credit: f11photo/Getty Images

In most of the U.S., a household income of $150,000 means you’re doing pretty well. In San Francisco, it’s probably not enough to buy a home.

A report released Monday by mortgage and loan site looks at what salary families in 27 metro areas would need to afford the local median home price, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

The report assumes a buyer’s down payment is 20 percent and uses the lending standard that a monthly home payment shouldn’t be more than 28 percent of income. It relies on the National Association of Realtors’ quarterly data for single family home prices, and excludes condos and co-ops.

According to the data, home prices have gone up since the first quarter of the year in every metro area except three, all in Florida: Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Pittsburgh was the most affordable metro area, with a prospective buyer only needing to make $32,400 to afford a typical home.

The San Francisco metro area requires the highest salary, $162,000. If a buyer wanted to put down 10 percent instead of 20 percent, they’d need to make over $196,000.

And while there have been signs of housing costs leveling off in the area, the HSH report shows prices increasing nearly 15 percent from the first quarter of the year, to a median price over $885,000.

Of course, the dollar amounts for home price and income level look very different depending on where you live: The median household income is $40,000 in the city of Pittsburgh, compared to over $78,000 in San Francisco.

But costs are still spiraling out of control in the Bay Area (and several other cities), putting homeownership out of reach for all but the wealthiest residents.

In San Francisco County, only 13 percent of households can afford a median-priced home, according to a report this month.

Though more people are renting, it’s not necessarily a more affordable option: Rent increases have continued to outpace income growth, and around the country, nearly half of renters are spending more on housing than they can afford.


Kate Abbey-Lambertz covers sustainable cities, housing and inequality. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow her on Twitter.


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