With Homeownership, There’s No Middle Ground for the Middle Class

Homeownership is not as attainable for most as some of the latest financial news would lead one to believe. In fact, a recent report from Trulia reveals that for the middle class homeownership is more probable in the Midwest and the South.

Buying a home is still a cheaper option than renting because mortgage rates are still below the housing bubble levels, but income levels have not risen to pre-crisis levels therefore making homeownership unaffordable for many.

Trulia examined homes for sale across the country and determined one’s total monthly payment must be less than 31 percent of the metro’s median household income for the home to be considered affordable.

The results of the study showed that those looking to live comfortably in their homes should consider moving to

Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, or Alabama where incomes are lower, but housing costs are even lower relative to income.

Two challenges face the middle class as they look for avenues to purchase homes. For one, affordable homes are not only in limited supply, but also they are limited in square footage making space constraints noticeable and diminishing the worth of the home. Affordability is worsening nationwide making homeownership become an increased challenge. Median incomes are not keeping pace with rising home prices and rising mortgage rates.

San Francisco, California is the least affordable housing market in the U.S. According to the Trulia study, the median price per square foot in San Francisco is nearly seven times higher than in Akron, Ohio-the most affordable city in the market according to Trulia’s data. There are areas on the east and west coasts that are fairly affordable, but what homeowners save in expense they give away in time. Most of these areas require long commutes to the cities.

“Affordability ranges widely both within and between metros,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia. “In parts of New York and California, affordability is the most pressing housing concern–even though mortgage rates are still well below historical norms and buying is cheaper than renting. Yet elsewhere in the country, affordability is a distant worry compared with vacancies, foreclosures, and sluggish local job growth. All housing is local–and so are the biggest housing challenges.”

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