Real Estate Roundup: Bay Area Homebuyers Require Largest Salaries in U.S.

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious:

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED TO EARN TO AFFORD A BAY AREA HOME?Illustration of a house made of hundred-dollar bills
Prospective homebuyers in the San Francisco region need to earn nearly three times as much as those in the rest of the country in order to afford a property, reflecting the rapid price appreciation our local markets have enjoyed over the past few years.

In a study, crunched third-quarter numbers for 27 major U.S. metro areas and found that buyers in the San Francisco region need to earn a minimum of $145,361 per year to afford the $744,400 median-price home, the highest of any city included in the report. Nationwide, the average homebuyer could afford the median-price home on an annual salary of about $51,000.

While local buyers will certainly need at least one healthy income — or better yet, two — to afford a home, the study says that the San Francisco area actually saw the largest quarter-over-quarter decline in required salary, partially due to a 3 percent home price decrease in that same time period.

Sluggish construction activity is likely causing the price differential between to new and existing homes to widen, says a blog post from the National Association of Realtors.

In November, the median price for a newly constructed U.S. home was $280,900, 36 percent more than an existing home. NAR says that, historically, new homes have commanded 15 to 20 percent more than their older counterparts.

Part of the reason for the growing divide is the fact that construction activity is still 35 percent below normal levels. Although single-family housing starts have risen in four of the past five years and are projected to increase to 820,000 in 2015, NAR warns that the uptick may not be enough to keep home prices from rising further.

Although the U.S. housing recovery is projected to continue in 2015, there are some potential hazards that could throw it off track, according to a CNN Money article.

A drop-off in investor activity, both institutional and foreign, is a chief concern, although Chinese buyers remain quite active. Rising mortgage rates, which some economists say are guaranteed this year, are also a cause for concern, as is strict access to credit.

Finally, for the housing recovery to stay on track, incomes will at least need to keep pace with home prices, CNN Money says.

(Image: Flickr/401(K) 2012)

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