The salary you need to earn to buy a home right now in the 25 biggest US cities

Ursula Page/ShutterstockMiddle-class homebuyers are struggling.
  • Home prices across the United States have continued to rise, though at a steadier pace, with 92% of metros showing sales-price gains, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors.
  • Despite a strong economy, homebuying affordability has decreased year-over-year due to a rise in mortgage rates and home prices.
  • Homebuyers in the San Francisco metro area must earn just under $US200,000 a year to qualify for a mortgage with 20% down.

Middle-class homebuyers are still struggling.

Home prices across the US rose in the fourth quarter of 2018, but at a steadier pace, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

“Housing affordability will be the key to sustained healthy growth in the housing market in the upcoming years. That requires more homebuilding of moderately priced homes,” said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun in a press release.

California is a particularly difficult market, though the income needed to qualify for a mortgage in San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas decreased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Each quarter, NAR calculates qualifying income requirements for all US metropolitan-statistical areas assuming the buyer puts 25% of gross income toward the mortgage principal and interest. The calculations are done for 5%, 10%, and 20% down payments at a 3.9% interest rate. Metro areas are based on the US Census definitions.

Below, we’ve pulled the qualifying annual income amounts for the 25 largest metros by population, ranked from lowest to highest qualifying income. Detroit and Pittsburgh are not included because of insufficient data.


25. St. Louis, Missouri

Mein Photo/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US35,829

Income needed for 10% down: $US40,308


24. Atlanta, Georgia

Income needed for 20% down: $US44,473

Income needed for 10% down: $US50,032


23. San Antonio, Texas

f11photo/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US47,148

Income needed for 10% down: $US53,042


22. Tampa, Florida

Income needed for 20% down: $US48,362

Income needed for 10% down: $US54,408


21. Houston, Texas

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Income needed for 20% down: $US48,959

Income needed for 10% down: $US55,079


20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Income needed for 20% down: $US46,222

Income needed for 10% down: $US52,000


19. Charlotte, North Carolina

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Income needed for 20% down: $US48,445

Income needed for 10% down: $US54,500


18. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

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Income needed for 20% down: $US52,458

Income needed for 10% down: $US59,015


17. Chicago, Illinois

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Income needed for 20% down: $US50,071

Income needed for 10% down: $US56,329


16. Orlando, Florida

Income needed for 20% down: $US54,536

Income needed for 10% down: $US61,353


15. Phoenix, Arizona

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Income needed for 20% down: $US56,121

Income needed for 10% down: $US63,136


14. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

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Income needed for 20% down: $US55,812

Income needed for 10% down: $US62,789


13. Baltimore, Maryland

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Income needed for 20% down: $US57,665

Income needed for 10% down: $US64,873


12. Miami, Florida

PixieMe/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US72,029

Income needed for 10% down: $US81,033


11. Riverside, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US74,087

Income needed for 10% down: $US83,348


10. Portland, Oregon

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Income needed for 20% down: $US80,055

Income needed for 10% down: $US90,062


9. Sacramento, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US74,705

Income needed for 10% down: $US84,043


8. Washington, DC

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Income needed for 20% down: $US85,900

Income needed for 10% down: $US96,637


7. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York

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Income needed for 20% down: $US83,122

Income needed for 10% down: $US93,512


6. Denver, Colorado

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Income needed for 20% down: $US90,201

Income needed for 10% down: $US101,476


5. Boston, Massachusetts

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Income needed for 20% down: $US94,729

Income needed for 10% down: $US106,570


4. Seattle, Washington

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Income needed for 20% down: $US100,759

Income needed for 10% down: $US113,353


3. Los Angeles, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US118,560

Income needed for 10% down: $US133,380


2. San Diego, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US128,829

Income needed for 10% down: $US144,933


1. San Francisco, California

Yulia Mayorova/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US196,002

Income needed for 10% down: $US220,502

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