Could You Afford a Median-Priced Home in These Cities?

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You may be surprised at how much (or how little) you need to earn in order to purchase an average home in the U.S.

Just how big does your paycheck need to be to purchase a home in one of 25 major U.S. cities?

According to a new report by, an online mortgage and consumer loan information site, it depends. The cost of owning the roof over your head fluctuates considerably from city to city.

A hefty $115,500 annual salary will get you an average house in the San Francisco metropolitan area, where the median home price is $682,410, leaving you with a $2,700 monthly mortgage payment.

If that seems too expensive, simply head east to Cleveland, the cheapest city for housing on HSH’s list, where $19,000 a year in pay will buy you an average home with a $453 house payment. Median-priced homes in Cleveland go for $112,800.

In Seattle, a base salary of $59,130 is enough to purchase a median-priced home of $344,400. On the East Coast, Atlanta homes average $142,400, requiring a $24,391 paycheck to cover the $569 mortgage payment.

Do these numbers seem reasonable to you? Actually there’s a huge caveat with these figures.

Using its mortgage rate data and fourth-quarter median home prices from the National Association of Realtors, calculated how much a homebuyer would need to earn to afford the principal and interest payments on a median-priced home. The figures do not include property taxes, insurance and other expenses. says:

We used standard 28 percent “front-end” debt ratios, and a 20 percent down payment subtracted from the median home price data to arrive at our figures. There is no doubt that your income will need to be much higher, possibly even double or triple this level to cover taxes, insurances and other expenses to live in the home, plus the down payment and any other debts you might have.

Click here for HSH’s report on housing affordability in the top 25 cities in the U.S.

Are you surprised how much (or how little) you need to earn to purchase a home? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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