Pricing Up

Christianna SilvaJanuary 1, 2019
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Metro Phoenix is getting more expensive for homebuyers.

Metro Phoenix, once a haven of affordable housing for folks fleeing rising realty prices, is sliding down the list of the most affordable big U.S. cities for homebuyers.

According to the city’s latest ranking from national mortgage industry expert, a typical Valley homebuyer needs to earn more than $56,000 a year to afford a median-priced home of about $272,700. Compare that to last year, when a homeowner would need to earn about $49,000 a year.

Phoenix still sits in the top 20 most affordable U.S. cities to buy a home, but just barely: It’s number 20. In previous years, it was in the top 10.

Elliott Pollack, a real estate consultant in Scottsdale, says that while Phoenix is becoming less affordable, which will be tough on prospective homebuyers in the near future, the cities that pushed Phoenix lower on the list aren’t competitors.

“In terms of affordability, yes, it’s a problem,” he says. “It’s a national problem. But in terms of places that are competitive to Phoenix, well, Phoenix is more affordable than any of them.”

Phoenix is still an economic choice, Pollack says, since the other cities that sit higher on the affordability list aren’t culturally comparable.

“The fact that Huntsville, Alabama, is more affordable than Phoenix, you might as well be saying Mars is more affordable than Phoenix,” Pollack says.

Phoenix is the most affordable city in the west, with Las Vegas trailing at No. 25, and fares better than the rest of the country, too: According to the national average, homebuyers need to make about $61,000 to afford a $266,800 home (Phoenix’s median home price is higher than the national median, but requires a lower minimum salary due to cost of living).

The most affordable big U.S. city for buying a house is Pittsburgh, where homeowners need to earn about $39,900. In contrast, the most expensive place for homeowners is San Jose, California, where a buyer needs to earn a whopping $257,000.

“Is it a disaster? Hell, no,” Pollack says. “Is affordability going to be a problem in the next couple of years? Absolutely. Does that mean nobody is going to buy a house? Of course, it doesn’t.”

In Phoenix, the median home price is $272,700, necessitating a minimum income of $56,231.41. Take a look at the top 10 most affordable metros in the U.S.:

Median home price: $155,000
Minimum income needed: $38,879

Median home price: $164,700
Minimum income needed: $40,917

Median home price: $159,800
Minimum income needed: $40,996

Median home price: $180,600
Minimum income needed: $41,630

Median home price: $188,900
Minimum income needed: $41,893

Median home price: $184,800
Minimum income needed: $42,108

Median home price: $179,100
Minimum income needed: $43,871

Median home price: $182,000
Minimum income needed: $44,414

Median home price: $213,400
Minimum income needed: $45,498

Median home price: $163,100
Minimum income needed: $45,882

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