It pays to make the big bucks, but knowing where your paycheck can go the furthest in today’s market doesn’t hurt. While housing affordability continues to strain buyers at large, a new report by StorageCafe/Yardi shows that some regions still make it possible for workers in a wide range of professions to buy a home.
Based on the study, the areas with the best chances of buying a home for the widest array of professions are clustered in a midwest-northeast region of the country, including Toledo and Dayton, Ohio, Scranton and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Syracuse, New York.
Toledo, in particular, topped a list of 100 metropolitan markets as the most affordable U.S. metro, with 51 out of 58 of the professions able to buy a home there. The average income hovered around $56,000, while the average home price sat around $156,000. That made saving up a 20% down payment—$31,286—doable in an average time of 2.77 years across all the professions.
Conversely, markets in California—San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose—were considered the least affordable, with no professions able to buy an average home there “easily.”
Utah surprisingly joined them for its growth in unaffordability as home prices surged in recent years. Between 2019 and 2021, average home prices in Salt Lake City rose 44%, while incomes rose just 9% during the same period.
The report states that homes in Salt Lake City, the Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield markets were only affordable for buyers from four out of the 58 profession groups.
The study looked at 58 profession groups that experienced growth in numbers over the last decade and calculated which metro areas the worker groups could afford to buy in.
Professions were also selected based on the ability to save for a 20% down payment in five years or less using a maximum of 20% of their salary.
- Ohio’s metros emerge as the most affordable, with Toledo, Dayton and Akron taking the 1st, 4th and 7th spots, respectively.
- Pennsylvania and Upstate New York also provide the best opportunities for homeownership across a high number of trending professions.
- Americans in advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations and sales fields, as well as operations specialties managers, could afford to buy a home in 94 of the 100 largest metros.
According to Francis Chantree, who authored the StorageCafe report analyzing the study, experts wanted to see where people could “realistically be homebuyers” based on their salaries as real estate has evolved along with the demographics of buyers in U.S. cities.
“The future of home affordability is bound up with the numbers of workers employed in the various professions,” Chantree wrote. “Changing times can boost new professions while traditional ones may decline. We looked at the last decade (2012 vs. 2021) in order to find out which sectors gained the most employees in this time span.
“While buying a home is difficult in parts of the U.S., it is still quite possible in many, even for professions that don’t offer the highest salaries. Metros clustered in a region where the Midwest meets the Northeast prove to be the most affordable across the widest range of jobs. Workers in the highest-paying professions can afford a home almost anywhere but might have to content themselves with something costing below the average in places such as California.
“Professionals of different stripes may not necessarily find it is the same metros that get them onto the property ladder, so they can look around. Worker migration has been a feature of life in America for a long time, and this will surely continue as workers find new jobs, professions and homes to buy.”