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, with 93% 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.
  • Buyers in the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas must earn over $US200,000 a year to qualify for a mortgage with 20% down.

The United States economy may be doing great, but middle-class homebuyers are still struggling.

Home prices across the US continued to rise in the third quarter of 2018 – 93% of metros had sales-price gains, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

In addition, the supply of available midpriced homes remains low and mortgage rates went up last quarter, further stifling long-term affordability for middle-class homebuyers, said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun in a press release.

California is a particularly difficult market. The state is home to four of the top five most expensive housing markets in the country and in the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas, buyers must earn over $US200,000 to qualify for a mortgage with 20% down, according to NAR data. It’s no wonder Californians are fleeing to cheaper cities like Boise.

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

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Income needed for 20% down: $US37,027

Income needed for 10% down: $US41,655


24. Atlanta, Georgia

Income needed for 20% down: $US45,592

Income needed for 10% down: $US51,291


23. San Antonio, Texas

f11photo/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US47,158

Income needed for 10% down: $US53,053


22. Tampa, Florida

Income needed for 20% down: $US48,013

Income needed for 10% down: $US54,014


21. Houston, Texas

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Income needed for 20% down: $US48,9678

Income needed for 10% down: $US54,975


20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Income needed for 20% down: $US48,948

Income needed for 10% down: $US55,067


19. Charlotte, North Carolina

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Income needed for 20% down: $US49,844

Income needed for 10% down: $US56,074


18. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

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Income needed for 20% down: $US53,322

Income needed for 10% down: $US59,988


17. Chicago, Illinois

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Income needed for 20% down: $US53,973

Income needed for 10% down: $US60,720


16. Orlando, Florida

Income needed for 20% down: $US54,116

Income needed for 10% down: $US60,880


15. Phoenix, Arizona

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Income needed for 20% down: $US55,479

Income needed for 10% down: $US62,414


14. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

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Income needed for 20% down: $US55,845

Income needed for 10% down: $US62,826


13. Baltimore, Maryland

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Income needed for 20% down: $US61,216

Income needed for 10% down: $US68,868


12. Miami, Florida

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Income needed for 20% down: $US72,222

Income needed for 10% down: $US81,250


11. Riverside, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US73,748

Income needed for 10% down: $US82,967


10. Portland, Oregon

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Income needed for 20% down: $US81,235

Income needed for 10% down: $US91,389


9. Sacramento, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US84,683

Income needed for 10% down: $US75,274


8. Washington, DC

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Income needed for 20% down: $US86,667

Income needed for 10% down: $US97,500


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

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Income needed for 20% down: $US87,114

Income needed for 10% down: $US98,004


6. Denver, Colorado

f11photo/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US91,570

Income needed for 10% down: $US103,016


5. Boston, Massachusetts

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Income needed for 20% down: $US99,972

Income needed for 10% down: $US112,468


4. Seattle, Washington

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Income needed for 20% down: $US102,291

Income needed for 10% down: $US115,078


3. Los Angeles, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US127,945

Income needed for 10% down: $US143,938


2. San Diego, California

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Income needed for 20% down: $US132,238

Income needed for 10% down: $US148,768


1. San Francisco, California

Yulia Mayorova/Shutterstock

Income needed for 20% down: $US201,205

Income needed for 10% down: $US226,356

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