Dec 15, 2022 - Real Estate

Seattle renters can't afford starter homes

Cities where renters <span style="background:  #1ac074; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">do</span> or  <span style="background: #8e8e8e; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">don’t</span> meet  income requirements for a starter home mortgage
Data: Point2Homes; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Seattle renters earned less than half of the income they would need to afford a starter home in October, according to an analysis by real estate website Point2Homes.

Why it matters: Higher mortgage rates and housing costs are keeping homeownership out of reach from many first-time buyers.

By the numbers: Renters in Seattle earned a household income of $70,164 on average in October, while the income needed to cover a mortgage on a starter home was $162,361, according to the study.

  • A typical Seattle "starter home" cost an eye-popping $645,382. That's among the highest in the nation, the study found, analyzing September data from Zillow.
  • Researchers considered "starter home" properties valued in the lower one-third of all available homes for sale.

The big picture: Los Angeles topped the list of cities where renters can't afford a starter home. Seattle was tied with Austin at 10th.

  • Across the U.S., the share of first-time home buyers has shrunk to a record low, according to the National Association of Realtors. First-time buyers made up 26% of all buyers in 2022, down from 34% last year, the group found.
  • Following October's interest rate hike, renter households in 15 of the 50 largest U.S. cities made less than half the income needed to buy one of the cheapest homes in town, per the analysis.

Go deeper: 3 reasons it's getting harder for renters to buy


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