Income needed to qualify for a mortgage and buy a house in US cities

Middle-class homebuyers are still struggling.

Home prices across the US rose in the fourth quarter of 2018, but at a steadier pace, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

“Housing affordability will be the key to sustained healthy growth in the housing market in the upcoming years. That requires more homebuilding of moderately priced homes,” said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun in a press release.

California is a particularly difficult market, though the income needed to qualify for a mortgage in San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas decreased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Each quarter, NAR calculates qualifying income requirements for all US metropolitan-statistical areas assuming the buyer puts 25% of gross income toward the mortgage principal and interest. The calculations are done for 5%, 10%, and 20% down payments at a 3.9% interest rate. Metro areas are based on the US Census definitions.

Below, we’ve pulled the qualifying annual income amounts for the 25 largest metros by population, ranked from lowest to highest qualifying income. Detroit and Pittsburgh are not included because of insufficient data.

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