Can You Afford to Buy a House?

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With the help of low interest rates and intervention from policymakers, the housing market has been one of the most improved areas of the economy. However, a combination of higher rates, rising home prices, and stagnant wages is building affordability issues.

The cost of homeownership is on the rise across the nation. The estimated monthly house payment for a median-priced, three bedroom home purchased in the fourth-quarter of 2013 surged 21 percent to $865, compared to $714 from a year earlier, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac. The firm analyzed 325 U.S. counties and included other factors such as insurance, taxes, maintenance, and tax deductions. Among the 15 most populated counties analyzed, the estimated monthly house payment jumped an average of 34 percent from a year ago.

“A potent combination of rapidly rising home prices and the often-overlooked but significant uptick in interest rates in the second half of 2013 caused the monthly cost of owning a home using traditional financing to jump substantially in many markets over the last year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a press release. “The monthly cost of owning a home is still less than renting in the majority of markets, but the cost of financed homeownership is becoming dangerously disconnected with still-stagnant median incomes, driven not by shoddy underwriting practices this time around but by investors and other cash buyers who are not tethered to the typical affordability constraints.”

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