(NEXSTAR) — With the way real estate has gone in recent years, it can feel like it’s priceless all over the US. But according to a recent analysis by MoneyGeek, that’s not quite the case.
Yes, it is true that more and more cities are becoming unaffordable for potential home buyers. But there are still some parts of the country where house prices are within the reach of the average family.
MoneyGeek compiled a list of 20 growing counties where the cost of owning a home was not excessive for the area’s average income. To qualify for the list, the estimated monthly cost of home ownership — including mortgage, property taxes, insurance, etc. — had to be less than 50% of monthly median income. That means the average county resident who buys the mid-priced home would spend between 34% and 49% of their income on housing costs.
Where do you get away with that in this economy? One region in particular dominates the list: 13 of the 20 counties identified were in the Southeast, the study found.
MoneyGeek’s list of 20 most affordable and desirable counties is below:
|District||Metro area nearby||Average income||Median house price|
|1||Clayton County, Georgia||Greater Atlanta||$30,502||$185,811|
|2||Cumberland County, Pennsylvania||Greater Harrisburg||$40,909||$257,744|
|3||Lexington County, South Carolina||Colombia||$36,899||$206,726|
|4||Madison County, Alabama||Huntsville||$38,327||$263,726|
|5||Marion County, Florida||Ocalá||$30,606||$218,548|
|6||Hidalgo County, Texas||McAllen||$22,506||$112,030|
|7||Oklahoma County, Oklahoma||Oklahoma City||$35,151||$200,321|
|8||Benton County, Arkansas||Greater Fayetteville||$37,496||$270,864|
|9||Florida Escambia County||Greater Pensacola||$30,751||$228,537|
|10||Tulsa County, Oklahoma||Tulsa||$34,896||$205,364|
|11||Spartanburg County, South Carolina||Spartanburg||$32,398||$205,940|
|12||St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana||Greater New Orleans||$37,211||$271,488|
|13||Pasco County, Florida||Greater Tampa||$34,974||$261,644|
|14||Lubbock County, Texas||Lubbock||$29,179||$186,302|
|15||Forsyth County, North Carolina||Winston-Salem||$31,769||$215,172|
|16||Douglas County, Nebraskac||Great Omaha||$39,918||$231,908|
|17||Greenville County, South Carolina||Greater Greenville||$35,725||$268,888|
|18||Richland County, South Carolina||Colombia||$30,753||$215,917|
|19||Webb County, Texas||Laredo||$27,185||$163,199|
|20||Knox County, Tennessee||Knoxville||$34,383||$270,117|
MoneyGeek still deemed these counties “desirable” because their populations are growing faster than the national average and their home values are still rising. The analysis also excluded particularly small or sparsely populated counties — all of those included have populations in excess of 250,000, making them fairly large urban areas.
However, these 20 provinces are the exception. Many major metropolitan areas have become unaffordable for the average buyer.
What drives skyrocketing house prices? It’s complex, MoneyGeek analysts said. “The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated labor shortages and supply chain delays, leading to slower housing construction. As a result, house prices skyrocketed, leading to higher mortgage payments and higher home insurance costs on newly purchased homes.”
The increase in remote working has also led to more people seeking large homes in smaller towns, pushing up house prices in places that weren’t as popular before the pandemic.
There are signs that things are slowing down compared to the past few years. Higher lending rates have slowed down the housing market, forcing potential home buyers to the sidelines. Mortgage applications are down 20% from last year and refinancing is down 80%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Those trends are expected to continue with more rate hikes by the Fed, which are almost certain.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.