Buying a house is like writing an equation – it’s not just about one number.
Yes, a home looks less affordable when home prices rise and more affordable when they fall. But what if your income is rising faster than prices? What if you have a high-paying job? Conversely, what if your pay is modest or falling? In that case, it may not help you to know that home prices in your area are low by national standards.
That’s why the action in a housing market can have a mix of consequences – a surge of price increases seems great for sellers, but it may shut some people out.
Or it might pressure them to buy in neighborhoods they don’t really want or houses they are not happy with. And if they do make a purchase, they might find themselves carving out an uncomfortably large slice of their paycheck for the mortgage payment each month.
Which is why rising prices can put a special squeeze on people who are the backbone of a community – or its heart.
Zillow this week released a study of affordability by job. The Seattle-based research company found that in metro Atlanta:
— Teachers make a median salary of $42,000 and can afford 54.7 percent of listings – up to a $198,000 home.
— Firefighters make a median salary of $45,000 and can afford 58.6 percent of listings – up to a $211,000 home.
— Food-service workers make a median salary of $12,000 and can afford 10.8 percent of listings – up to a $57,000 home.
— Construction workers make a median salary of $20,000 and can afford 20.0 percent of listings – up to a $94,000 home.
— Lawyers and judges make a median salary of $117,000 and can afford 90.5 percent of listings – up to a $546,000 home.