In a thought-provoking article by Deseret News, the looming question is raised: Can anyone afford to live in America anymore? With the average home price surpassing $400,000 and rents skyrocketing, the prospect of homeownership seems to be slipping away for many. However, let’s dig deeper and explore the viable options that might make owning a home more accessible than it appears.
The Sobering Reality
At first glance, the housing market presents a daunting picture. With median home prices exceeding $400,000 and monthly mortgage payments ranging from $4,000 to $5,000, it’s easy to feel that homeownership is out of reach. Similarly, rents for decent apartments have climbed to $2,500 to $3,000 a month in many areas. The question arises: Can anyone truly afford to live in America given these circumstances?
Crunching the Numbers
The Deseret News article introduces Brita Joslin as an example, earning $83,000 a year and facing challenges in renting an apartment. Why? Landlords are demanding proof of income triple the cost of rent. Let’s break down the math. With a take-home pay of $62,250 (assuming a 25% tax rate), Brita’s monthly budget for rent becomes approximately $1,700—a figure that may be borderline in certain cities, especially for those with dependents.
The 97 Percent Dilemma
The article highlights a staggering statistic: median-wage earners in 97% of counties find home prices beyond their reach. This raises concerns about the accessibility of homeownership for a vast majority of Americans.
The Path to Affordable Homeownership
To unravel the affordability challenge, the blog proposes a practical approach. For someone earning $83,000 annually, aiming for a mortgage payment of one-third of their income suggests financing a $240,000 home. Even with a 10% down payment on a $280,000 or $290,000 home, the target of $240,000 becomes achievable. The catch? Many aspiring homeowners yearn for dream homes that often exceed the $300,000 mark, potentially creating a mismatch between desires and financial feasibility.
A Practical Approach: Livable Homes
The article suggests a pragmatic approach: consider homes in the $200,000 range that may need some cosmetic touch-ups. Despite potential imperfections, these homes offer the advantage of fixed monthly payments and equity building. While not as shiny and new as a high-end apartment, the long-term financial benefits outweigh the day-to-day aesthetics.
The Long-Term Financial Advantage
Owning a home, even one that may not be aesthetically perfect, provides stability and financial advantages over time. With a fixed mortgage payment, homeowners avoid the uncertainty of rising rents and the possibility of eviction. The sacrifice of living in a less-than-perfect property may pave the way for future financial flexibility.
The article challenges the notion that homeownership is entirely out of reach for Americans. While the dream home with all the amenities might be a stretch for those with incomes under $100,000, affordable and livable homes in the $200,000 range could be the key to unlocking the door to homeownership. Making a practical choice today might pave the way for a more financially secure future and the ability to upgrade to that dream home down the road. The question remains: Can anyone afford to live in America? The answer might be yes, with a strategic and realistic approach to homeownership.