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The 10 Most Affordable Small and Large Metros

Rising home prices and mortgage rates have eroded affordability nationwide, but these metros are the nation's most affordable.

June 1, 2022
June 1, 2022
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Nationwide, housing affordability is still at one of its lowest points of all-time due to 20% year-over-year price growth and this year’s sudden rise in mortgage rates.

But the housing market isn’t a monolith and affordability varies by location.

For example, 97.3% of homes were affordable at the local median income in Wheeling, W.Va., while just 8.3% were affordable in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Cali., according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. This index measures the share of homes that are affordable at the local median income.

With such a difference in affordability, it’s hard to imagine these two metros are on the same planet, let alone in the same country.

National headlines about eroding affordability may be intimidating, but 56.9% of homes sold in the first quarter of 2021 were affordable at the national household median income of $90,000. And there are still plenty of metro areas – large and small – that are affordable to entry-level homebuyers.

Here are the most and least affordable metro areas for the first quarter of 2022.

What's in this Article?

Most affordable large metros
Least affordable large metros
Most affordable small metros
Least affordable small metros

Large metros (population over 500,000)

Most affordable large metros

RankMetro% of homes affordable at median incomeQ1 2022 Median sales price
1Lansing-East Lansing, MI92.3$136,000
2Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN89.9$204,000
3Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA89.2  $145,000
4Rochester, NY87.4  $162,000
5Dayton-Kettering, OH86.8$160,000
6Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT86.7  $250,000
7Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI86.3  $226,000
8Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA86.2  $180,000
9Toledo, OH86.0$137,000
9Pittsburgh, PA86.0$183,000

Least affordable large metros

RankMetro% of homes affordable at median incomeQ1 2022 Median sales price
1Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA8.3$825,000
2Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA11.7$995,000
3San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA14.4$1,485,000
4San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA14.6$783,000
5Stockton, CA21.3$550,000
6Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA21.7$760,000
7San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA21.9$1,372,000
8New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ22.3$695,000
9Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA23.7$527,000
10Modesto, CA25.6$449,000

Large metro takeaways

The difference between the most and least affordable large metros is staggering. Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown is the most expensive of the 10 most affordable metros, and its median home price is nearly half of the cheapest market in the 10 least affordable metros.

In fact, the average median home price of the most affordable large metros ($178,300) is nearly one-fifth of the average for the least affordable large metros ($844,100).

And here’s the mind-blowing part: The median income of the most and least affordable large metros is nearly identical.

  • Lansing-East Lansing median income: $89,500
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale median income: $90,100

Small metros (Population under 500,000)

Most affordable small metros

RankMetro% of homes affordable at median incomeQ1 2022 Median sales price
1Wheeling, WV-OH97.3$137,000
2Cumberland, MD-WV97.1$107,000
3Elmira, NY96.6$127,000
4Utica-Rome, NY93.8$111,000
5Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL93.5$118,000
6Bay City, MI91.6$118,000
7Binghamton, NY91.4$127,000
8Kokomo, IN91.3$154,000
9Monroe, MI91.1$195,000
10Springfield, OH90.8$129,000

Least affordable small metros

RankMetro% of homes affordable at median incomeQ1 2022 Median sales price
1Salinas, CA9.2$790,000
2Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA17.4$771,000
3San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA18.3$770,000
4Napa, CA19.2$835,000
5Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA19.4$1,000,000
6Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI21.6$835,000
7Merced, CA24.4$405,000
8Bend, OR25.3$601,000
9Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA26.5$720,000
10Yuba City, CA29.8$425,000

Small metro takeaways

The most and least affordable small metros are similar to the large metros in several ways.

First, California dominates the least affordable lists for both small and large metros. Only New York City, Bend, and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina were able to break up the California sweep.

The average median home price for the least affordable small metros ($715,200) is nearly 5.5 times greater than that of the most affordable metros ($132,300).

But again, the difference in median income for the most and least affordable small metros isn’t as great as you might expect:

  • Wheeler median income: $75,400
  • Salinas median income: $90,100

Housing affordability is relative

So what do the most and least affordable metros tell us? That housing affordability is relative to location. A household income of $90,000 unlocks more than 90% of homes in one part of the country and less than 9% in another.

Mortgage calculator: See how much home you can afford.

It’s also important to note that market conditions, especially mortgage rates, have changed substantially since the end of the first quarter. Affordability rankings may look very different when second quarter data is released.

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