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Minneapolis

How much salary do you need to earn in order to purchase the median-priced home in your metro area?

To find out, HSH.com took the National Association of Realtors’ 2012 second quarter data for median home prices as well as our 2012 second quarter average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to decipher how much money homebuyers in 25 major metros would need to earn in order to purchase the median-priced home in their market.

We ran the same calculations back in early 2011, using the NARs’ 2010 fourth quarter data for home prices as well as our 2010 fourth quarter averages. But a lot has changed since late 2010.

Since that time, affordability has increased sharply in many areas across the country. Mortgage rates have fallen by at least half a percentage point and home prices have continued falling in several metros. Given the real estate market’s increased affordability, can you now afford a home that was once out of your reach?

Here’s a look at how much salary you would need to earn in order to purchase the median-priced home in your metro area:

  • Mortgage rate: 3.90%
  • Home price: $103,900
  • Salary: $15,176.15

Cleveland is king in terms of affordability. Cleveland places second in terms of lowest home prices, and with mortgage rates so low, it only takes a salary of $15,176.15 to afford a median-priced home.

Photo by: Avogadro94, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.97%
  • Home price: $103,200
  • Salary: $15,202.35

Atlanta was the most-affordable metro last time around, and just about still is. Home prices in Atlanta are the cheapest on our list, requiring buyers to earn just about $27 more annually than borrowers in Cleveland.   

Photo by: Daniel Mayer (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.87%
  • Home price: $134,700
  • Salary: $19,603.33

Home prices have trended upward in St. Louis while mortgage rates are down 0.68 percent since the end of 2010, requiring homebuyers in the Gateway to the West to earn a few extra hundred dollars.

Photo by: Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.99%
  • Home price: $135,400
  • Salary: $19,994.01

Home prices are up and mortgage rates are down since the fourth quarter of 2010 in Cincinnati. The result: borrowers don’t need to earn as much in order to buy.

Photo by: kdh (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.97%
  • Home price: $136,100
  • Salary: $20,048.84

Home prices are up in Orlando and mortgage rates are down 0.55 percent since late 2010. Despite the increase in home prices, the salary you’ll need to buy in Orlando has gone down.

Photo by: CaryMelC, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.02%
  • Home price: $144,300
  • Salary: $21,385.55

Tampa is another Florida metro that has seen price increases in the last couple of years. The improving conditions mean that borrowers in Tampa will have to earn a bit more money in order to afford a median-priced home.

Photo by: Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.91%
  • Home price: $148,800
  • Salary: $21,702.38

Home prices have risen substantially in Phoenix, but mortgage rates are down 0.70 percent, making the required salary amount just a few hundred dollars higher when compared with 2010.

Photo by: Azwatchdog (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.90%
  • Home price: $163,000
  • Salary: $23,808.59

Much like Phoenix, home prices are way up and mortgage rates are way down in Dallas. The boost in home prices has forced the salary amount about $2,000 higher.

Photo by: fcn80, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.07%
  • Home price: $162,800
  • Salary: $24,273.02

Home prices are up and mortgage rates are down in San Antonio, but the swings are less dramatic than what we’ve seen in Phoenix and Dallas. The salary needed to buy a home in San Antonio is just a few hundred dollars cheaper than back in late 2010.

Photo by: Muhgcee, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate:  4.00%
  • Home price: $168,300
  • Salary: $24,882.27

With mortgage rates down 0.55 percent and home prices up nearly $15,000 since the fourth quarter of 2010, borrowers in Space City should be happy to have to earn about $500 more a year to be able to afford a home in their metro.

Photo by: Urban, Houston Skyline, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.12%
  • Home price: $170,200
  • Salary: $25,529.17

Affordability in Sacramento is up due to dips in mortgage rates and home prices since 2010. Sacramento homebuyers can now earn about $3,000 less and still afford a home in the River City.

Photo by: Michael Grindstaff, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.13%
  • Home price: $174,500
  • Salary: $26,205.55

In terms of our list of metros, mortgage rates are highest in Minneapolis. And despite increased home values, the required annual salary took a slight dip from a few years back.

Photo by: Jdkoenig (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.09%
  • Home price: $187,700
  • Salary: $28,052.90

“Chicago real estate is improving and in some neighborhoods shifting dramatically,” said Chicago real estate agent Jody Wise. Agents are getting multiple offers for accurately priced properties, she said. “Average selling price has been increasing sharply each month [in the second] quarter and for June was up 20 percent versus March.”

Photo by: Derek Kaczmarczyk, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.04%
  • Home price: $206,700
  • Salary: $30,707.30

Home prices are way up in Miami, but the annual salary it takes to afford a median-priced home increased by just under $1,000 since 2010.

Photo by: Daderot (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.87%
  • Home price: $219,700
  • Salary: $31,973.66

Along with St. Louis, Philadelphia has the best mortgage rates in our list. Add in reasonable home prices and the City of Brotherly Love is one of the more affordable major metro areas in the U.S.

Photo by: Bobak Ha'Eri (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.03%
  • Home price: $233,900
  • Salary: $34,706.28

Home prices are up in Portland, but the annual salary required to buy fell by about $2,000.

Photo by: Steve Morgan (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.97%
  • Home price: $255,000
  • Salary: $37,563.96

Home prices are up more than $17,000 in Baltimore, but a mortgage rate decline of 0.58 percent has helped to keep salary requirements rather stable in Charm City.

Photo by: Chuck Szmurlo, Cszmurlo, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.93%
  • Home price: $260,700
  • Salary: $38,218.03

Buying a home in Denver will require borrowers to earn a few thousand dollars more these days. Why? Home prices are up more than $30,000 since late 2010. But borrowers in the Mile-High City shouldn’t be too concerned about affordability—the required salary only increased by about $2,000.

Photo by: Gtj82, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.04%
  • Home price: $290,700
  • Salary: $43,186.32

Lower home prices in Seattle mean a smaller salary can secure you a median-priced home in the Emerald City.

Photo by: Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.98%
  • Home price: $296,800
  • Salary: $43,774.41

A huge decline in home prices over the last few years means homebuyers in Los Angeles can make more than $10,000 less than they used to and still afford a median-priced home.

Photo by: Myriam Thyes (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.95%
  • Home price: $362,100
  • Salary: $53,211.85

“The market has improved this year from the standpoint of activity level,” said Boston real estate agent Bill Gassett. “Home values have not gone up much but have remained stable. There are certain price pockets with low inventory that have done really well.”

Photo by: Nelson48, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 3.88%
  • Home price: $367,000
  • Salary: $53,475.71

The real estate market has gotten more expensive in Washington, D.C. While mortgage rates have fallen 0.67 percent since late 2010, home prices have risen quite a bit. Homebuyers will now have to earn more than $1,000 additionally each year in order to afford a home.

Photo by: Kevin McCoy, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.00%
  • Home price: $379,100
  • Salary: $56,047.94

In a market that is mostly first-time homebuyers and investors, San Diego real estate agent Gary Kent said, “The main story in [San Diego] is our very low inventory, especially in the low and middle range.” Kent said the two main reasons for the low inventory are fewer foreclosures and “traditional” sellers on the market.

Photo by: Norvy, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.02%
  • Home price: $429,900
  • Salary: $63,712.05

Record-high rents and lower interest rates are driving borrowers in Manhattan, said Brian McFadden, a real estate agent in New York City. “Manhattan continues to see an influx of first-time buyers (who are frustrated with the city’s high rents) as well foreign investors, who see Manhattan real estate as a safe investment.”

Photo by: Daniel Schwen (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

  • Mortgage rate: 4.11%
  • Home price: $552,600
  • Salary: $82,787.95

Despite being the most expensive metro in our list, home prices in San Francisco are down since the fourth quarter of 2010, allowing affordability to rise. Borrowers in the City by the Bay can now earn about $7,000 less and still be able to afford a median-priced home.

Photo by: Urban, 2004, via Wikimedia Commons

To determine the salaries in this slideshow, we used price amounts come from the NARs’ second quarter survey of existing single-family home sales, and subtracted 20 percent as a common down payment.

With this “loan amount,” we plugged HSH.com’s quarterly average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage into our Mortgage Amortization Calculator to determine a monthly payment for each area. From this figure, we used a 31 percent “front end” debt-to-income ratio* to calculate how much income was needed to qualify to buy the median-priced home. (Taxes and insurance were not considered in the calculation.)

*= “Front end” debt-to-income ratio refers to the percentage of your monthly salary that your mortgage lender may use to go towards your mortgage payment. Lenders may use lower or higher ratios.

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About the author:
Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of the site's daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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