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According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q4 2019 U.S. Home Affordability Report issued this week, median home prices remain unaffordable for average U.S. wage earners. The report cites that is the case in 344 of 486, or 71 percent of the U.S. counties analyzed. That number is down from 73 percent from Q3 2019 and 75 percent from Q4 2018.

ATTOM’s Housing Affordability Index determines affordability for average wage earners by calculating the amount of income needed to make monthly house payments — including mortgage, property taxes and insurance — on a median-priced home, assuming a 3 percent down payment and a 28 percent maximum “front-end” debt-to-income ratio. That required income was then compared to annualized average weekly wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ATTOM’s Q4 2019 home affordability analysis also reported that home ownership consumes 32.5 percent of wages, and that number is down from 2018. The analysis also noted that declining mortgage rates and increasing wages are overcoming rising prices, and home prices are still less affordable than historic averages in 49 percent of local markets, down from 72 percent a year ago.

The report revealed the top five largest populated counties where a median-priced home in the Q4 2019 was not affordable for average wage earners. Those counties included Los Angeles County, CA; Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ; San Diego County, CA; Orange County, CA (outside Los Angeles) and Miami-Dade County, FL.

Rounding out the top 10 least affordable counties in the fourth quarter were: Kings County, NY; Dallas County, TX; Riverside County, CA; Queens County, NY; and San Bernardino County, CA.

The 142 counties (29 percent of the 486 counties analyzed) where a median-priced home in Q4 2019 was affordable for average wage earners included Cook County (Chicago) IL; Harris County (Houston), TX; Wayne County (Detroit), MI; Philadelphia County, PA and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH.

Here are the remining counties making up the top 10 most affordable in the fourth quarter: Franklin County, OH; Oakland County, MI; Allegheny County, PA; Mecklenburg County, NC; and Fulton County, GA.

ATTOM’s Q4 2019 home affordability report also stated that home price appreciation is outpacing wage growth in 76 percent of U.S. housing markets, and two-thirds of markets require at least 30 percent of wages to buy a home.

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