How much of my income goes towards housing?

How much of my income goes towards housing?

With rates rising and home price growth starting to slow, I started to consider how much income is used towards housing in this current economic climate. Mortgage rates are trending upwards to near the highs of 2011 at 4.98 percent, home prices are still rising but at a slower pace, and the median income has been steadily rising although an even more modest pace than house prices. These factors go into how much of a person’s income goes towards housing expenditures and whether housing is a burden for potential homebuyers. This blog will highlight some of the factors and show states and regions where housing is less of a financial burden.

Home Price vs Median Family Incomes

Home prices since 2000 started to outpace incomes but started to turn towards the end of 2007, until home prices plummeted during the Great Recession. In 2008, incomes grew making it favorable for potential homeowners to buy a home. It took home prices about 4 years to recover, beginning in 2012. Around 2014 home price growth began to bloom and once again, prices started to outpace incomes. This pace has continued until recently, as home price growth has slowed making owning a home affordable. As of the second quarter of 2018, family incomes have increased by 52 percent since 2000, while housing prices have increased by 95 percent, or nearly doubled the level in 2000.

Payment to Income and Mortgage Rates

Let us look at the amount of money homeowners had to commit from their income to be able to afford a home. In 2000, when interest rates were 7.90 percent, homeowners had to spend about 19.6 percent of their income to be able to afford a home. In 2006 when rates were around 6.50 percent, homeowners had to spend 22 and up to 24 percent of their income on a home. In the wake of the Great Recession in 2009-2010, mortgage rates started to fall, so the share of income that went to paying a mortgage declined. In 2013 when rates were down to 3.47 percent, the mortgage payment on a median priced home was 11 percent of the median family income, putting less pressure on household incomes. Since that time rates have continued to decline, much to the benefit of potential homeowners. Anything above 30 percent is considered burdensome on households, but below that range would be typically affordable. On a regional level, the West requires a higher portion of your income, which has eclipsed the 35 percent mark. The Midwest, being the most affordable region, requires the least percentage of median family incomes. The Midwest started around 15 percent and, at times, dipped below 10 percent and is currently hovering back around 15 percent.

Payment to Income Ratio

A ratio between 2.5 and 4 is normal and healthy price to income ratio for the housing market. As of August 2018, the median price of existing homes sold was 3.5 percent of the median family income. The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) produced a map showing the US home price to income ratios. The ratios range from under two to over eight. As the map below illustrates, costal markets have much higher ratios, indicating significantly higher home prices compared with incomes. The West Coast region has affordability issues, with several areas posting ratios above eight, including San Diego, Los Angeles and the San Francisco metropolitan area. Small pockets in the Northeast reach above five, mostly clustered around New York City and Boston. The Miami/ South Florida Region also posts low affordability. In comparison, The Midwest region has ratios in the 2-3 range, in line with historical averages.

Jobs Generated vs GDP Growth Rate

The Gross domestic product (GDP) has hovered around 3 percent and has had to withstand the tech bubble, wars and several crises. In 2009, both jobs and GDP took a dive but rebounded the following year. GDP and jobs have grown solidly after the Great Recession. Unemployment has been below 6 percent ever since 2014, which is good for economic progress and potential homebuyers.

Even with rising rates and higher home prices, potential homebuyers have plenty of reason to join the market. Real Estate is still affordable in several states and regions. The job market is strong, GDP is at a healthy level and consumer confidence is high. New homes and existing inventory figures are now improving, although still modestly, but the increase in inventory is helping tame price growth.

March 2018 Housing Affordability Index

March 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.42 percent this March, up 8.2 percent compared to 4.28 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in March moving the index down 7.0 percent from 150.4 to 161.7. The median sales price for a single family home sold in March in the US was $252,111 up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 35 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points), while median family incomes rose 2.7 percent.

  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 8.5 percent. The South had an increase of 6.0 percent while the Midwest had a gain of 5.1 percent. The Northeast had the smallest incline in price of 3.5 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in affordability of 9.2 percent. The South had a decline of 7.3 percent followed by the Midwest with a drop of 5.7 percent. The Northeast had the smallest drop of 2.7 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in all four regions. The West had a decline of 4.7 percent followed by the Northeast with a dip of 5.6 percent. The South had a drop of 5.9 percent followed by the Midwest, which had the biggest; dip in affordability of 8.6 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 194.7. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.6. For comparison, the index was 151.8 in the South, and 163.5 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently down 2.5 percent. Mortgage credit availability in April was flat. Rates are rising which will increase-housing costs. Home prices are up 5.9 percent while median family incomes are only growing 2.7 percent. Inventory gains will help ease the pressure on home prices.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

Property Values By State from 2005-2017

Property Values By State from 2005-2017

Home price appreciation is an important topic in today’s economy. Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), we can analyze the gains and losses of property values over time. I estimated the median property values by state in 2017 using the FHFA index and the median property values from the (ACS). I then calculated the growth rate from 2005 -2017. [1]

The states with the highest estimated median property values in 2017 are Hawaii ($637,892), District of Columbia ($605,756), California ($522,431), Massachusetts ($396,992), and Colorado ($342,967).

The states with the lowest estimated median property values in 2017 are Alabama ($141,714), Oklahoma ($137,387), Arkansas ($129,902), West Virginia ($122,791) and Mississippi ($118,019).

On a regional level, the estimated price growth appears to be the strongest in the South, West, and Midwest. Price growth is weakest in the Northeast states. Overall, all regions are displaying growth in property values with only a few states showing no growth or loses. Below is a breakdown of the Census four regions by state.

  • In the South, which typically leads all regions in sales, Texas led the region with 63 percent estimated price growth from 2005 to 2017. Although Florida experienced strong price growth since 2012, home prices have only increased by 14 percent since 2005 when house prices were still generally at peak levels.

  • In the West, the least affordable region[2], Montana led all states with 71 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. Despite the strong price growth in California since 2012, prices have only increased by 9 percent since 2005. Nevada shows a negative 5 percent price change over this time.

 

  • In the Midwest where affordability is most favorable, North Dakota led all states with 111 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. The increase is likely due to the boom in shale oil production up until 2014 when oil prices started collapsing. Illinois, while having the smallest growth in the region had an estimated 7 percent price growth over this time.

  • In the Northeast where price growth is typically slow, Pennsylvania lead the region with a 40 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. Rhode Island was the only state to have a decline of negative 4 percent price change over this time.

Click on the data visualization below to view the historical prices by state from 2005-2017.

 


[1] I used the FHFA expanded data set, not seasonally adjusted data.

[2] Based on NAR housing affordability index

Using Tax Refund for a Downpayment

Using Tax Refund for a Downpayment

Here is some insight on how Americans can invest their tax return and how first-time home buyers may look to invest long term. One of the major hurdles for potential home buyers is the downpayment. With a sizable tax refund, the average American would have a sizeable or partial downpayment depending on which region or market you live in. The estimated average tax refund is expected to be $2,840 for most Americans this year, which is slightly down from $2,895 last year. Some of the main recommendations on what to do if you receive a tax return are save, invest, splurge, pay down debt, donate or fund a business idea. The younger generation is working to overcome debt, lack of savings and rising home prices.

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Let us look at the data from NAR’s 2017 Home Buyer and Sellers:

  • For first-time buyers, the median downpayment ticked down to 5% in 2017 from 6% in 2016.
  • First-time home buyers made up 22% of all buyers.
  • For first-time home buyers, 13 percent cited their most difficult step in the home buying process was saving for a downpayment.
  • For first-time home buyers, 25% said saving for a downpayment was the most difficult step in the process. It took 32% of first-time home buyers more than two years to save up for a downpayment however, 29% were able to come up with a downpayment within six months or less and that is where the tax refund can help.
  • For first-time home buyers, 78% used their savings to make a down payment while 25% used a gift from a relative or friend.  The third most used source of a downpayment was sale of stocks, a loan from a relative or their tax return at 7 percent. All buyers made up 4 percent and repeat buyers made up 2 percent who used their tax return.

With improved job markets and rising wages, first-time buyers could apply the tax refund of approximately of $2,840 to boost their downpayment when entering a housing market, which has experienced very tight inventories and rising prices. By state, Connecticut on average is expected to have the highest tax return at $3,126 while Vermont may have the lowest return at $2,254. Below you can find your state to estimate your return.

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Charts from savingtoinvest.com.

 

 

December 2017 Housing Affordability Index

December 2017 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is practically flat from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates increased to 4.22 percent this December, up 1.7 percent compared to 4.15 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in December moving the index down 2.3 percent from 163.8 to 160.1. The median sales price for a single family home sold in December in the US was $247,900 up 5.7 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up seven basis points from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points) while median family incomes rose 4.1 percent.

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  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 8.6 percent. The Midwest had an increase of 7.5 percent while the Northeast had a gain of 6.7 percent. The South had the smallest incline in price of 5.8 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Midwest had the biggest decline of 4.4 percent. The West followed with a decline of 4.0 percent. The South had a decline of 1.0 while the Northeast had the smallest decline of 0.8 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in two of the four regions. The Northeast had the biggest gain of 3.5 percent followed by the Midwest with a gain of 1.3 percent. The West had a decline of 0.1 percent. The South had the biggest drop in affordability of 0.9 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 203.1. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 111.5. For comparison, the index was 161.7 in the South, and 177.5 in the Northeast.

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  • Mortgage applications are currently up 0.7 percent. There are plenty of potential homebuyers interested entering in the housing market as rates continue to rise. There is job growth and incomes are rising but still not at the pace of home prices. New construction is on the rise however low inventory remains a concern due to the pressure it puts on home prices.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

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