Owning a Home Isn’t Where the Struggle Starts… - InvestingChannel

Owning a Home Isn’t Where the Struggle Starts…

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If money was no object, where would you live? 

Real estate website Home Bay asked this and, somewhat surprisingly, 19% of respondents said Los Angeles. Twenty-seven percent said they’d move to California, making it the most popular dream state in the survey. 

Source: Home Bay

So all those people leaving California – and Home Bay found that the Golden State has seen the largest out-migration – don’t necessarily hate it. They just can no longer afford it, opting for more affordable places such as Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. 

But affordability is relative. Especially now. While prices are insane throughout most of California, they’re not that much more attractive elsewhere in the country, particularly if you like major or medium-sized metropolitan areas. 

Lots of renters are hurting. And for those who want to own homes, it might take a financial miracle to secure a mortgage. Scroll with us for the ugly data.


Owning a Home Isn’t Where the Struggle Starts…

Key Takeaways:

  • Many renter households are struggling financially. 
  • Even if you’re doing okay or better financially, home ownership might still be far out of reach. 
  • A cooling housing market – for renters and buyers – doesn’t necessarily translate to affordability. 

Amid all the talk of a housing cooldown, as prices technically come down, housing still remains horribly unaffordable throughout much of America. 

Let’s start with renters. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 14.8 million renter households are cost-burdened if you use the traditional guideline of not spending more than 30% of income on housing and utilities. 

Worse, a whopping 19.2 million don’t have enough money left over for basic needs, such as transportation, food, and childcare, after paying for housing. 

So much for rent coming down. The relatively small drops we’re seeing across the country don’t translate into affordability. 

For example, the median rent in Boston fell 6% between August 2022 and February 2023, from just under $2,000 a month to $1,902. 

To spend no more than 30% of your income on rent at $1,902 a month, you need to earn $6,340 a month, or just over $76,000 annually. Not much relief from the $6,666 a month, or roughly $80,000 a year, you needed to make when the median rent was $2,000. 

For people aspiring to homeownership, things aren’t much better. Redfin reports that just 21% of homes for sale in 2022 were affordable for the typical household. 

You might think, “Well, that was 2022. Prices have come down.” They have. But as with rent, not by that much. Plus, interest rates are back up, with the 30-year mortgage rate hovering around 7%. 

While the median sale price of a home in America has eased from $400,000+, it’s still a robust $382,758, up 1.2% year over year. 

Put 10% down on the typical home nationally and your $344,483 mortgage at 7% spits out a monthly payment of $2,292, higher than Boston’s median rent, before accounting for things like property tax, insurance, and maintenance. 

Plus, we’re talking the national median. Good luck getting your hands on a sub-$400,000 home in most major, medium, and even small U.S. metros.

There’s also a serious discrepancy along racial lines. The National Association of Realtors recently released data showing how far Blacks and Hispanics lag Asians and Whites on homeownership. 

Home Ownership

Source: National Association of Realtors


The Bottom Line: If you live under rent control or secured a mortgage before rates and prices went crazy, good for you. It might make sense to stay put. 

Affordability is all relative. If you’re doing well with money, that $100 drop in Boston rents might spell opportunity. If you’re doing just all right or are hurting, don’t drop everything and move to Beantown. 

Same goes for people who have been sitting on the sidelines of the real estate market. Is the relatively modest drop in prices enough to offset 7% interest rates? For the well-heeled, it might be. For mere mortals with money, probably not.

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