Homeownership is out of reach for most Americans, according to a new report analyzing home prices in more than 400 U.S. counties.

The report, from real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions, studied home prices in 473 U.S. counties, and found that in 335 out of them, workers earning the average wage in that county did not make enough money to buy a home at the county’s median price:

Among those, was Orange County, California, where the annual income needed to buy was $184,022 which was well above the $62,478 average annual wage there. In Orange County, an average wage earner would need to spend 82.5 percent of his or her income to buy a median-priced home in the first quarter of 2019.

According to ATTOM’s Q1 2019 U.S. Home Affordability Index, the ten most expensive counties in the U.S. for homebuyers were mostly concentrated in the New York City area and the San Francisco Bay Area, though Hawaii and Southern California also made the top ten. Kings County and New York County (Brooklyn and Manhattan) were nearly tied for first place, with average wage earners needing to spend 115.9% and 115% of their annual income, respectively, to buy a home at the median price.

Percentage of the average worker’s annual income needed to buy a home in the ten most expensive counties for housing in the U.S. (Chart by ATTOM Data Solutions)

In addition to 71% of the 473 counties studied in ATTOM’s report, 49% of counties reported an increase in home prices that was greater than the increase in average weekly wage growth. This means that despite workers in nearly half of the counties studied getting a raise, homes became even more unaffordable than they were before.

However, assuming the trend of slightly decreasing home prices continues, the housing market overall is slowly transitioning toward a buyer’s market. According to CBS, the price of a new house this year is slightly cheaper overall than it was at this time last year. Todd Teta, the chief product officer for ATTOM, stated that potential homebuyers may soon see a drop in prices simply because the bulk of the demand cannot meet the price of the supply.

“Affordability may improve because of the simple fact that homes are out of reach for so many home seekers,” Teta stated.

While ATTOM didn’t provide a full list of the counties in their report, those interested in which counties are unaffordable for prospective homebuyers are invited to contact them through their website.


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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