House-hunting is happy here

Pittsburgh ranks 8th of nation's most affordable metro areas

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If you ask a real estate agent, "now" always seems to be the best time to buy a home.

In the Pittsburgh market right now, agents can recite that mantra without fear of seeing their noses grow, according to a new survey on home affordability.

The region ranked as the eighth most affordable for home buyers among 25 major metropolitan areas studied by Interest.com, a sister website to North Palm Beach, Fla., interest rate tracker Bankrate.com.

The most affordable markets were Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul, while the least affordable were San Francisco, New York and San Diego.

The survey compared an area's median household income to what it would cost to buy a median-priced home. In Pittsburgh, household income exceeded the requirement by 14 percent.

In roughly half of the 25 markets, income fell below what was needed to buy a median-priced home.

"Pittsburgh came in a little above average. That's good," said Mike Sante, managing editor at Interest.com. "If you are thinking this is a good time to buy a house [in Pittsburgh], the answer is, yes," he said.

PG graphic: Brief description
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Calculations were based on a homebuyer with a 20 percent downpayment and considered the same guidelines that lenders use when determining what buyers can afford, such as spending no more than 28 percent of pretax income on housing costs, including property taxes and insurance.

Compared with other markets, the median household income in Pittsburgh was among the lowest at $48,854. But affordability in the region was boosted by a low average home price of $132,000, the fourth lowest among the 25 markets.

Detroit had the lowest average home price at $60,200. San Francisco was tops at $552,600.

While Pittsburgh fared relatively well in the survey, for households in many big cities nationwide buying a home was out of reach, Mr. Sante said.

"Even after years of declining home prices and record-low mortgage rates, median income households are unable to afford a median-priced home in nearly half the metropolitan areas that we looked at," he said.

For the full survey visit www.interest.com.

homes - businessnews - yourbiz

Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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