Homes Becoming More Affordable Despite Rising Prices

National median listing price sets new record at $315,000; 74 of nation’s 100 largest metros become more affordable than last year

Housing market conditions are largely location based. What’s true in one neighborhood might not be true in another. But a lot of what causes those differences is rooted in home values. In other words, conditions on the high end of the market can sometimes look very different than those on the lower end of the market. That’s certainly true today. For example, recent data shows that the number of homes for sale above $750,000 was up 11 percent in April, while, at the same time, the number of available homes below $200,000 fell 8 percent. Combine that with the fact that a significant share of buyer demand is coming from first-time home buyers who are likely looking for something affordable and you can begin to see the problem. The high end of the market is currently cooling off, with an increasing number of available homes and fewer active buyers. At the same time, the market for affordable, starter homes continues to be competitive, with more buyers than homes for sale. This disparity explains why, though recent indicators show improving conditions for buyers, home sales numbers have not yet shown a corresponding increase. As more affordable homes become available, the market will balance and sales will begin to climb.

Nearly three-quarters of the 100 largest U.S. metros — including some of the priciest like San Jose, Calif., and San Francisco — are more affordable than this time last year, despite a continued upward swing in median home prices, according to two new research reports released today by realtor.com®.

The trends are based on realtor.com® ‘s May 2019 monthly housing trend report and REALTORS and realtor.com Affordability Distribution Curve and Score Report, which showed increasing inventory, rising wages, and declining mortgage rates have offset slowing price increases in some local areas, making a larger share of homes affordable to buyers — especially in the mid-to upper-tier price range.

Realtor.com® May data shows the U.S. median listing price continued its upward hike, increasing 6 percent year-over-year to $315,000 — a new record high. However, the 6 percent year-over-year increase in the median listing price was the slowest pace of growth since April 2015. National inventory grew by 3 percent, and homes typically spent 53 days on the market– one day less than last May.

The most dramatic change in the U.S. housing market landscape is affordability, which realtor.com® defines as the share of for-sale homes a buyer is able to afford in their market at their income. Driven by inventory growth and lower mortgage rates, 74 out of the nation’s 100 largest metros became more affordable in April 2019 compared to the previous year. This trend is a rapid acceleration from last month when only 44 metros were more affordable than the previous year.

“Lower mortgage rates, higher wages and more homes for sale have helped counteract rising home prices, and ultimately, made it so that buyers are able to afford more than last year,” said Danielle Hale, realtor.com® ‘s chief economist. “However, the boost in affordability has yet to translate into more home sales perhaps because–while the shift in trend is welcome, the current monthly savings are small and some buyers may be waiting for markets to tip further in their favor.”

Compared to national trends, the 10 markets with the greatest increases in affordability were San Jose, Calif.Des Moines, IowaSan FranciscoLakeland, Fla.AtlantaPortland, Ore.Cape Coral, Fla.Austin, Texas; and Dallas. These markets are distinguished by rising incomes, decreasing listing prices, and a significant increase in available homes for sale. On average, incomes grew an estimated 6 percent year-over-year, compared to the 3.5 percent increase the top 100 largest metros saw. At the same time, median home listing prices fell an average of 2 percent, and inventory increased an average of 26 percent. This compared to 4.4 percent price and 6.5 percent inventory growth in the top 100 metros.

Hale added, “Despite the encouraging trends, entry-level buyers will likely continue to struggle to find homes in their price range as the majority of the inventory gains continue to be in mid-to upper-tier homes in more expensive markets.”

In April, the number of homes priced above $750,000 — more than double the national median — increased 11 percent year-over-year, while the number homes priced below $200,000 decreased by 8 percent year-over-year. Similarly, increases in affordability are predominantly focused in pricier markets, especially along the West Coast. For example, San Jose, one of the nation’s most expensive metros, saw the greatest boost in affordability, but it was principally driven by improvements for 80th and 90th percentile income earners. Meaning, San Jose became more affordable compared to this time last year, but the majority of affordability increases were only felt by the area’s top income earners. 

Metros With Greatest Increases in Affordability

Metro

April Affordability 
Score

YoY Affordability 
Score

May Median Listing 
Price

May Median Days 
on Market

San Jose-Sunnyvale et al, Calif.

0.5

0.11

$1,167,444

28

Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa

0.94

0.11

$288,000

59

San Francisco-Oakland et al, Calif.

0.54

0.09

$954,500

28

Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.

0.82

0.08

$231,500

64

Atlanta-Sandy Springs et al, Ga.

0.8

0.07

$335,000

47

Portland-Vancouver et al, Ore.-Wash.

0.59

0.07

$474,975

34

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

0.69

0.07

$299,900

91

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

0.7

0.07

$369,995

46

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

0.68

0.06

$350,000

43

Charlotte-Concord et al, N.C.-S.C.

0.75

0.06

$329,450

49

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

0.56

0.06

$754,500

60

Raleigh, N.C.

0.87

0.06

$349,950

45

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.

0.69

0.06

$315,000

57

Madison, Wis.

0.86

0.06

$339,500

40

Jackson, Miss.

0.86

0.06

$259,000

71

Tampa-St. Petersburg et al, Fla.

0.77

0.05

$279,950

58

Palm Bay-Melbourne et al, Fla.

0.79

0.05

$270,018

61

Jacksonville, Fla.

0.74

0.05

$315,000

60

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

0.91

0.05

$279,900

45

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

0.8

0.05

$289,900

31

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

0.68

0.05

$511,950

29

Colorado Springs, Colo.

0.62

0.05

$379,900

30

Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C.

0.9

0.05

$223,225

60

Salt Lake City, Utah

0.7

0.05

$436,250

31

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

0.7

0.05

$350,000

46

Nashville-Davidson et al, Tenn.

0.72

0.05

$355,495

37

Washington et al, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V.

0.87

0.04

$462,250

34

Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

0.62

0.04

$425,475

35

St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

1.08

0.04

$229,188

52

Riverside et al, Calif.

0.62

0.04

$410,450

50

New Haven-Milford, Conn.

0.9

0.04

$279,900

50

Minneapolis et al, Minn.-Wis.

0.81

0.04

$360,000

34

Miami-Fort Lauderdale et al, Fla.

0.62

0.04

$399,000

88

Deltona-Daytona Beach et al, Fla.

0.62

0.04

$294,500

73

Allentown-Bethlehem et al, Pa.-N.J.

1

0.04

$222,450

54

Los Angeles-Long Beach et al, Calif.

0.37

0.04

$769,500

42

Springfield, Mass.

0.83

0.04

$279,000

37

Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C.

0.84

0.04

$269,000

50

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.

0.97

0.04

$258,250

36

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.

0.39

0.03

$699,925

31

North Port-Sarasota et al, Fla.

0.66

0.03

$359,900

86

Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.

1.07

0.03

$219,900

45

Boise City, Idaho

0.64

0.03

$369,900

30

Sacramento–Roseville et al, Calif.

0.57

0.03

$493,725

35

Portland-South Portland, Maine

0.7

0.03

$379,450

47

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

0.96

0.03

$334,500

43

Tucson, Ariz.

0.67

0.02

$298,250

52

San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

0.68

0.02

$295,000

49

New York-Newark et al, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.

0.54

0.02

$564,500

52

Little Rock et al, Ark.

1.03

0.02

$194,900

53

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.

0.72

0.02

$319,900

43

Knoxville, Tenn.

0.77

0.02

$289,900

56

Hartford-West Hartford et al, Conn.

0.98

0.02

$279,900

46

Fresno, Calif.

0.66

0.02

$322,500

42

Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.

0.68

0.02

$361,250

43

Columbia, S.C.

0.98

0.02

$235,000

53

Chicago et al, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.

0.86

0.02

$311,386

42

Albuquerque, N.M.

0.81

0.02

$269,995

46

Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.

0.69

0.02

$329,995

31

Richmond, Va.

0.83

0.02

$332,053

46

Wichita, Kan.

0.96

0.01

$212,450

44

Virginia Beach et al, V.a-N.C.

0.85

0.01

$301,000

45

Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

0.52

0.01

$694,900

56

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

0.51

0.01

$627,500

30

Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass.

0.64

0.01

$369,900

44

Pittsburgh, Pa.

1.05

0.01

$197,250

59

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.

0.43

0.01

$689,475

40

Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.

1.01

0.01

$223,500

44

Columbus, Ohio

0.95

0.01

$264,900

35

Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

0.89

0.01

$289,900

43

Buffalo-Cheektowaga et al, N.Y.

0.92

0.01

$220,000

36

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.

0.62

0.01

$594,250

30

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.

0.84

0.01

$299,900

64

Charleston-North Charleston, S.C.

0.69

0.01

$427,450

67

Worcester, Mass.-Conn.

0.85

0

$349,000

36

Toledo, Ohio

1.13

0

$166,950

43

Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa

0.81

0

$297,630

29

Milwaukee-Waukesha et al, Wis.

0.86

0

$279,900

36

Houston-The Woodlands et al, Texas

0.7

0

$324,945

51

Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

1.03

0

$190,606

49

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

0.68

-0.01

$196,000

83

Baton Rouge, La.

0.93

-0.01

$249,900

70

Youngstown-Warren et al, Ohio-Pa.

1.21

-0.01

$124,900

64

Dayton, Ohio

1.15

-0.01

$157,745

38

Akron, Ohio

1.11

-0.02

$174,900

40

Philadelphia et al, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.

0.92

-0.02

$288,950

46

Winston-Salem, N.C.

0.85

-0.02

$245,000

45

Scranton–Wilkes-Barre et al, Pa.

1.06

-0.02

$162,400

67

Oklahoma City, Okla.

0.87

-0.02

$256,500

43

New Orleans-Metairie, La.

0.74

-0.02

$292,500

60

Louisville et al, Ky.-Ind.

0.91

-0.02

$277,450

43

Greensboro-High Point, N.C.

0.85

-0.02

$245,900

45

Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

0.77

-0.03

$289,700

51

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

0.96

-0.03

$249,000

50

Rochester, N.Y.

0.93

-0.04

$222,450

31

Bakersfield, Calif.

0.79

-0.04

$260,000

43

Syracuse, N.Y.

1.04

-0.04

$184,950

51

Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.

0.88

-0.04

$302,500

40

Tulsa, Okla.

0.89

-0.07

$239,500

50

El Paso, Texas

0.79

-0.09

$191,475

68