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Cities Where Buyers Can Afford the Most and Least

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Housing Markets

Cities Where Buyers Can Afford the Most and Least


November 20, 2020
Detroit, Michigan
Photo: SeanPavonePhoto

Housing affordability continues to be an issue for many Americans. Nearly 67% of Americans are bunkered down by at least one non-mortgage debt. SmartAsset analyzed data from the 50 largest cities to find where the average American can afford the largest home, along with the smallest. Data compared included median household income in each city, average non-mortgage debt, and median home values. The top three cities where Americans can afford the most home are Detroit, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. For the cities where Americans could afford the least home, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco unsurprisingly took the top three spots.

Key Findings

Detroit and Oklahoma City stay affordable; Oakland becomes less affordable. Compared to last year’s analysis, Detroit and Oklahoma City still rank within the top three cities where the average household can afford the most home, with affordability ratios increasing to roughly 192% and 150%, respectively. Meanwhile, of the five cities where the average household can afford the least home, all but one are the same as last year: Long Beach, California moved out of the bottom five, replaced by Oakland, which jumped from sixth-worst in our 2019 study to fourth-worst in this year’s analysis.

Some big-city dwellers with debt may struggle to afford a home. In 22 of the 50 cities in our study, households cannot afford the city’s median-valued home while paying off the average non-mortgage debt. In fact, the typical household with debt can only afford less than 50% of the median home value in three cities: New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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