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The salary you must earn to buy a home in the 50 largest metros Updated on:

National data and all 50 metros, sorted alphabetically

How much salary do you need to earn in order to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home in your metro area?

Metro Area30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate% Change from 3Q18Median Home Price% Change from 3Q18Monthly Payment (PITI)Salary Needed
Kansas City4.49%-0.41%$205,400+0.69%$1,120.86$48,036.83
Las Vegas4.49%-0.41%$298,900+1.29%$1,396.67$59,857.10
Los Angeles4.49%-0.49%$548,600-4.77%$2,626.30$112,555.74
New Orleans4.49%-0.41%$204,500-1.02%$1,094.47$46,905.66
New York City4.49%-0.41%$396,600-1.81%$2,356.81$101,006.15
Oklahoma City4.49%-0.41%$149,200-7.33%$884.99$37,928.03
Riverside/San Bernardino4.49%-0.41%$365,000+1.39%$1,781.70$76,358.72
Salt Lake City4.49%-0.41%$331,400-0.21%$1,548.75$66,374.98
San Antonio4.49%-0.41%$226,500-1.13%$1,328.34$56,928.99
San Diego4.53%-0.45%$620,000-0.96%$2,911.34$124,771.80
San Francisco4.53%-0.45%$930,000-2.35%$4,345.85$186,250.55
San Jose4.53%-0.45%$1,220,000-2.40%$5,552.83$237,978.37
St Louis4.49%-0.41%$170,900-1.84%$984.43$42,189.78
Virginia Beach4.49%-0.41%$217,000-3.13%$1,139.57$48,838.91
Washington, D.C.4.49%-0.41%$420,000+0.62%$2,131.13$91,334.30
Leave a Comment

Mark November 21, 2017 7:10 pm    

What about Honolulu? I'm sure the median home price and the salary needed would rank towards the top.

Editorial Team November 21, 2017 8:45 pm

The National Association of Realtors reported that the Urban Honolulu metro area had a median home price of $760,200 in the third quarter of 2017. This would have fit in between San Diego and San Francisco, and using our methodology, a reckoning for the salary needed to buy a median-priced existing home there would be $135,800.56 The metro area is ranked #54 in terms of population. so it just missed our list of top 50.

Marc November 21, 2017 5:47 am    

Has there been talk of changing or modifying the 28/36 rule to better reflect the cost of living excluding housing and loans? At present this table uses a fixed 28% to get from PITI to Salary Needed regardless of where you are in the USA.The problem is the PITI now ranges from $821.46 for Pittsburgh to $5,044.23 for San Jose. A median home is 6.1 times more expensive in the San Jose metro area than the Pittsburgh metro area. However, other costs such as an automobile, food, and utilities (electricity, gas, water) are roughly the same for San Jose vs. Pittsburgh.Someone maxed out at 36% of gross income for home, auto, and credit cards loans would have $1,056.16 of extra spending money per month for life's essentials in Pittsburgh and $6,485.44 per month extra in San Jose. It's tough to live on $1,056.16 if you are paying for a kid in college or trying to set aside money for major repairs. You can live like a king if you have an extra $6,485.44 per month coming in.Thus, it seems the 28/36 rule needs to be more flexible. The main advantage for folks in San Jose is they could live like they are in Pittsburgh (spending under $1000/month) and to add $5,500 per month to savings. Building up an extra $66,000 of savings every year would be bad for the economy but allows the San Jose folks to call their own shots in life. Every month they would be saving up more than their PITI. The main downside is very few people have a $216,181.25/year or more minimum gross income needed to pass the 28/36 rule in San Jose.

Editorial Team November 21, 2017 8:49 pm

The good news of sorts is that while we do calculations using traditional rules, market rules allow for "back-end" ratios that are commonly higher. The FHA allows for 41 percent total DTIs; Qualified Mortgage rules allow for 43%, and Fannie and Freddie are currently purchasing loans with total DTIs of up to 50 percent. While this may be more reflective of reality in some eyes, the truth is that carrying this much debt can put you at a greater risk of financial trouble, so adhering to a more conservative level of debt is likely to be safer and more sustainable over time.

Victor May 13, 2019 8:35 pm

Thank you for sharing your wisdom about 28/36 rule. It is so important for all generations to understand the value of stability and not be carried away with relentless ads of "6x gross income affordability" tilting the market to inevitable collapse.

K2 November 20, 2017 9:14 pm    

Your property tax estimates for California do not appear to take in account Prop 13. Upon sale the property is reassessed to the purchase price. In my area of San Jose the actual tax rate is 1.3% $1194 parcel tax. Your $1,165,000 property tax bill would be approximately $16,340 or $1362 per month.

Editorial Team November 21, 2017 9:01 pm

The tax data we use in our calculations comes from the Census Bureau as part of the American Community Survey. The figures we use are medians for the metro area.

Novacek September 08, 2017 3:44 pm    

You (appropriately) include property taxes, but do you also include state/local income taxes?If one state takes 5k in property taxes, and another takes 5k from you in income taxes, it has an equal effect on affordability.

Editorial Team September 27, 2017 3:59 pm

The calculation for mortgage qualification performed by lenders is done using pre-tax income, so this is the calculation we employ. Income taxes and other costs (utilities, commuting, etc) are part of the cost of living, and certainly can affect one's level of financial comfort, but play no role in mortgage qualification.

Queen June 20, 2017 12:45 pm    

Great article. Atlanta 40k

Husband June 20, 2017 12:43 pm    

This is a great article to read, it shows Atlanta at around $40K. Thought you might like to take a look at this

RJ May 25, 2017 12:56 pm    

It's always interesting to me how these "National" surveys always skip over Indianapolis, in favor of dying markets like Cleveland, Cincinnati, St Louis, Pittsburg all of which are loosing population. Even Chicago has been loosing population since 2000. Indianapolis is the 14th largest city by population and has had a population growth of 9% from 2000 - 2015.

Editorial Team May 30, 2017 8:30 pm

Currently, we are covering only the 27 largest metro areas; according to the latest Census estimates, Indianapolis comes in at #32. However, it might interest you to know that based on the same methodology as the areas we do cover, that the Indianapolis metro area, with a median home price of $152,900 in the first quarter of 2017 would have required a salary of $34,979.46, good enough for fourth lowest of our group.

Ken January 31, 2017 8:43 pm    

When I purchased a home 20 years ago, the going rate was 3X salary, so $50,000 salary would equate to $150,000 home and that took into account a small down payment (

Editorial Team February 07, 2017 7:59 pm

You can check the methodology slide at the end of the show, but we use the industry standard 28 percent "front end" ratio for the PITI calculation. One considerable difference between years ago and today are much lower mortgage rates, which materially improve a given income's debt-carrying ability (aka as "lower mortgage rates increase borrowing ability").

Kersten January 06, 2017 1:09 am    

Is this based on 20% down? These numbers (especially in Texas) are inaccurate. Did your methods consider 3% property tax? I don't know anyone with a 1,200/month payment on a home in Dallas.

Editorial Team January 11, 2017 9:36 pm

Yes, the calculations are done with 20 percent down (you can see calcs at a 10% down payment on the individual slide for Dallas). Please know that the metro area is considerably larger than just Dallas -- see the metro definitions here http://www.hsh.com/finance/real-estate/metro-area-definitions.html and the methodology can be found on the "About" slide at the end of the group.

Jerri January 01, 2017 5:12 am    

Cincinnati, you have got to be kidding, property taxes are ridiculous for new homeowners unless there is an abatement. Not too many of those.