Home Affordability Improves In St Louis During Third Quarter

Home affordability improved in the St. Louis metro area during the 3rd quarter, with 4 of the 7 largest counties seeing an improvement in their affordability index from the prior quarter and 5 of the 7 seeing an improvement in affordability from a year ago, according to the latest data from ATTOM Data Research.

The greatest improvement in affordability was in Franklin County.

As the table below shows, Franklin County saw a 12% improvement in housing affordability from the prior quarter and an 11% improvement from a year ago.   Jefferson, St Charles and St Clair (IL) County saw improvements in affordability from the prior quarter as well.

St Louis County suffered the greatest decline in housing affordability.

St Louis County saw affordability decline 12% from the prior quarter and 10% from a year ago.

Home prices are outpacing wages in 5 of the 7 counties covered…

Home Affordability Drops Significantly In St Louis City and County Increases In Jefferson and Madison

Home affordability declined in the City of St Louis from a 98 on the affordability index in the first quarter to an index of 73 this quarter, for a decline of 25% in home affordability in the City of St Louis, according to the latest data from ATTOM Data Research.  In neighboring St Louis County, the affordability was 116 in the first quarter and 89 the 2nd quarter, for a decline of 23%.  On the affordability index, anything under 100 indicates homes are less affordable than the historical average and anything over 100 indicates homes are more affordable than the historical average.

Homes became more affordable in Jefferson County and Madison County, IL. during the 2nd quarter.  As the table below shows, Jefferson County improved from an already good 105 on the affordability index for the 1st quarter to 108 during the 2nd quarter and Madison County, IL from 103 to 106.

The affordability index takes into account the median home price for the county as well as the median wages for the county, computing what percentage of wages it takes for people in that county to buy a home.  In spite of the decrease in affordability in the City of St Louis, it still takes the small percentage of wages (21.7%) to buy a home there.  The national average is 33.9%.

Home prices are outpacing wages in 4 of the 7 counties covered…

Cheaper To Buy Than Rent A Home In Six Out Of Eight St Louis Areas Counties

According to a report just released this morning by ATTOM Data Research, it’s cheaper to buy a home than rent in 6 of 8 St Louis metro area counties covered in the report.  The data reported also shows, however, that home prices are rising faster than rents in all of the counties, a trend that, if it continues, could make buying a home a less affordable option in the future.  The data also shows, on a postiive note, that in 6 of 8 counties wages are rising faster than rents.  The counties are split when it comes to wages vs home prices however, with wages rising faster than home prices in 4 and home prices rising faster than wages in the other 4.

Affordabilty is determined by the percentage of wages necessary to purchase a home in a given County.  Based upon this criteria, the most affordable county to buy a home is the City of St Louis at 20.1%, followed by Madison County, IL at 27.3% and then St Louis County at 27.6%.  The least affordable county to buy a home on the list is St Charles County at 45.3%

St Louis Home Affordability – 2018

St Louis Home Affordability - 2018

St Charles County Residents Have Best Housing Affordability Threshold In St Louis Area

Nearly 80 percent (78.8%) of the homeowners with a mortgage in St Charles County spend less than 30% of their household income for gross monthly housing costs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data.  As the table below shows, the 4-largest St Louis area counties are all within the green (good) level for housing affordability in all categories:  Homeowners with a mortgage, homeowners without a mortgage and renters.

Of the three categories, St Louis renters have the worst housing affordability threshold with a median of 46.3% of St Louis renters spending more then 30% of their household income on housing costs.  Conversely, a median of just 25.6% of St Louis homeowners with a mortgage, spend more than30% of their household income on housing costs.

Of the four counties reported on in the table below, residents of the city of St Louis fare the worst in all 3 categories in terms of their housing affordability threshold.

St Louis Area Housing Affordability ThresholdSt Louis Area Housing Affordability Threshold

Source: NACo Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year estimates, 2016

 

City of St Louis Has Best Home Affordability In St Louis Area

It’s good when the value of your home increases, right?  Yes, generally, most homeowners, look at their homes as an investment in addition to shelter for their families so they are generally happy to see the value of their investment increase.   The flip side of it is, homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers, would, of course, like to see lower prices and better value in the home they buy.  The thing that helps balance out these competing interests is inflation, but more specifically, the rate of income growth.

Not to get into an economics lesson here (which I’m not qualified to teach anyway) but if homebuyers incomes increase at about the same rate as home prices (ditto for interest rates) then, more or less, the “affordability” of a home to a buyer remains the same.  Problems arise when those things get out of whack, such as in the period from about 2000 through 2007 when home prices were increasing at a much higher rate than incomes were (and interest rates rose too making it even more fun) which eventually led to the housing bubble burst in 2008 and the real estate market crash.

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