Real Estate

What You Need to Earn to Buy a Home in the Largest U.S. Cities

As prices rise, higher mortgage payments follow, and after nearly three years of rapid home appreciation during the pandemic, qualifying for a home loan is more difficult than ever. Today’s buyers also face the additional cost of rising interest rates.

In its most recent quarterly report,, a source for national mortgage and home equity rates and news, charted the annual income required to qualify for a mortgage on a median price home in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.

The website looked at third-quarter 2022 median sale prices of single-family homes, factoring in the industry-standard 28 percent debt-to-income ratio used to qualify prospective borrowers. (A 20 percent down payment and a fixed-rate, 30-year loan at a rate concurrent with the study were assumed; local property taxes and homeowner’s insurance costs were also included.)

It found that the national median home price was $398,500, requiring a payment of $2,233 a month and a qualifying household income of $95,717 a year. The national median household income, about $70,000 a year, puts this out of reach for most households. But the median home price rose only 9.75 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2022, while in the previous four quarters — Q3-2021 through Q2-2022 — it increased between 14.25 and 16.91 percent. That change represented “a considerable deceleration,” according to the report.

“The only way affordability can improve is if price increases mellow or prices even retreat. There are some sporadic signs of this in the available data so far, but only on a near-term basis — annual references still point to increases, at least so far,” Keith Gumbinger, a vice president at, wrote in an email.

The site reported that the most affordable of the 50 metropolitan areas, based on the lowest income requirements, was Pittsburgh, where the median home price was $210,250, requiring a monthly payment of $1,283 and an annual income of $55,006. Oklahoma City and Cleveland were just above it on the list of metropolitan areas requiring the lowest annual income to get a mortgage.

At the other end of the scale: San Jose, Calif., where the median home price was $1,688,000, requiring a monthly payment of $8,380 and a qualifying annual income of $359,127. San Francisco and San Diego took second and third place behind it on the list of cities requiring the highest annual income.

Because interest rates have fluctuated since the end of the third quarter, today’s salary requirements for homeownership may vary slightly from those noted here.

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