House Rich, House Poor: How home prices affect homeowner finances over time

August 3, 2015 by Gina Thelemann in Articles 

As a resident of the Bay Area, I spend an unnecessary amount of my time calculating housing affordability. In fact, I don't remember the last time I attended a social event where the topic didn't turn to housing, the potential bubble, or how "Sarah's cousin's best friend just bought a steal of a one-bedroom condo for $700,000... in the Tenderloin."

After we cover what Sarah's condo is worth, the conversation turns hopeful. What could we own if ... shhhhhh... we didn't live here? Every Bay Area resident, from programmers to graphic designers, has filed away the listing price of their cousin's three-bedroom, two-bathroom craftsman in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In short, we know we're destined to be house poor if things continue as they are now. But what does it really mean to be house poor... vs. house rich?

House rich, house poor

For this week's infographic, I asked our SmartZip data experts to arm me with information on the market with "house rich" residents -- that is, a market with the combined highest median income and lowest median home prices. Atlanta, Georgia, boasts this great buying environment.

We compared Atlanta to San Jose, which has both the highest median income and highest median home price across the country. Below, we break out how Atlanta residents can go above and beyond their monthly mortgage minimums to pay off their loan in a shorter period of time, and pay tens of thousands less in the long run.

As for us in the Bay Area? These numbers aren't completely shocking, to be honest. But the Peachtree State is looking pretty appealing these days. In fact, doesn't Sarah's sister live there? What's her mortgage payment, again?




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