In recent years, the increasing cost of real estate has made it difficult for many locals to afford homes in their communities. MoneyGeek analyzed changes in homeownership costs, home price appreciation, and median incomes from 2021 to 2023 to reveal 57 counties in the U.S. where the housing market is no longer affordable.
To find our list of recently unaffordable counties, MoneyGeek narrowed down counties with populations larger than 250,000 and population growth above the national average (0.55%). The analysis examined three factors in these counties: home price appreciation since 2021, the ratio of homeownership costs to rent, and homeownership costs as a percentage of median income.
The full list of 57 counties where housing is no longer affordable can be found here.
By the end of October 2023, the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index had risen by 4.8% within the previous 12 months. It's no wonder that nearly 35% of Americans name affordability of mortgage payments as their No.1 priority when choosing a mortgage.
Another driving factor for home demand is increasing rates of remote work. According to a Pew Research Center study, U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (35%) are working remotely all or most of the time. As more Americans don't have to contend with lengthy commutes, they're opting for homes outside of expensive cities in more affordable suburbs, where they can find more living space for their money.
"Our business started skyrocketing in May 2020. Because of the pandemic, many people were spending more time in their homes and working remotely," says Sharon Ayers, a North Carolina-based loan consultant who works with a national homebuilder. "People wanted bigger homes and families were moving in together and needing more space, like a mother-in-law suite."
For buyers who can purchase a home, the increasing costs of homeownership — including rising home insurance premiums — can make it difficult for some to keep up with their mortgages. The real estate market is still expected to see flat prices in 2024, but there is hope for improved home affordability over the next few years, according to a U.S. News & World Report.
MoneyGeek analyzed historical home prices, fair market rents and median mortgage payments from the National Association of Realtors, local property tax rates from SmartAsset, and population growth and median earnings from the U.S. Census by county to find counties in the U.S. that had recently become unaffordable.
Counties identified as recently unaffordable in the list above met the following criteria:
To order the list of places, we combined the following three factors into a score:
The data points presented are defined as follows: