Even the most modest metro Atlanta homes out of reach for many buyers

Rising interest rates and stagnant wages are making it increasingly difficult for wage earners among the least affluent in metro Atlanta and elsewhere to afford even the modest of homes on the market, according to a new Zillow analysis.

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Metro Atlantans in the bottom third of the income spectrum spend a larger share of their income on monthly mortgages than other income groups and have a harder time buying a home, according to a Zillow analysis.But locals are better off when compared with similar groups in cities often compared with Atlanta, and when compared with national averages,

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Zillow, the online home marketplace, found that metro Atlantans in the bottom tier pay 18 percent of their income on mortgages, compared with 12 percent in the middle tier and 11 percent among top earners. Nationally, bottom-tier earners pay 26 percent of their income on mortgages.

According to Bankrate.com, “As a general guideline, your monthly mortgage payment, including principal, interest, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income,”

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Metro Atlantans in the bottom tier of earners are better off than those in Denver, where nearly 34 percent of income is paid on mortgages; in Chicago, where 25 percent is paid; in Charlotte, 21 percent; in Dallas-Fort Worth, nearly 19 percent; and in St. Louis, nearly 17 percent.

“This is a striking example of growing income inequality in America, as upper-tier incomes grow sufficiently to keep even very expensive homes affordable for the well-heeled, while wages among the working class increasingly fail to support the purchase of even the most modest homes,” Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in releasing the report.

Homeownership rates also vary widely among income groups, with 42 percent in the bottom tier in metro Atlanta owning a home, compared with 63 percent in the middle tier and nearly 85 percent of top earners, according to Zillow.

See our Atlanta Forward series on the challenges metro Atlanta’s economy faces and how the metro area stacks up to Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth; Chicago, St. Louis and soon Denver.

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