"For the middle class today, homeownership is well within reach in some parts of the country, but in others, it’s more of a pipe dream than the American Dream," writes Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist. "Even after taking income differences into account, homeownership affordability varies hugely across the country."
To determine middle class affordability across the country, Kolko and his colleagues examined what percent of the housing market in a metro area is within reach of a household earning the area's median income. What they found will be heartening to those looking to live in the Midwest, and discouraging to those who would prefer San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York.
"In Akron, OH – the most affordable of the 100 largest metros – 86% of the homes for sale are within reach of the typical household," notes Kolko. "Including Akron, the six most affordable metros are in Ohio (Dayton, Toledo, Cincinnati) and Indiana (Gary, Indianapolis)."
"The least affordable housing market in the U.S. is San Francisco," he adds. "Even though the median household income is 60% higher in San Francisco than in Akron – which means San Franciscans can afford more expensive homes – the median price per square foot in San Francisco is close to seven times higher than in Akron. As a result, just 14% of the homes for sale in San Francisco are within reach of its relatively well-paid middle class."