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Time to re-evaluate your budget as interest rates and home values continue to rise

2 minute read

Shopping around for a home this year? You better make sure you’ve got a bigger financial cushion.

Monthly mortgage rates for homeowners were already up near the end of 2016. But with the expected raise in the federal funds rate and climbing home values, potential homeowners may be wary about buying this year, Zillow says.

“As mortgage rates rise, buyers will face higher financing costs and already expensive homes will come with even higher monthly mortgage payments,” says Zillow chief economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Nationally, mortgage rates still have room to grow before the share of income needed to pay the median monthly mortgage reaches the historical average, but many more expensive coastal markets are either close to or have exceeded what has been considered historically affordable.”

“Historically affordable” may be a relative term, because some markets are demanding more than 40 percent of household income to be spent on monthly mortgage payments.

Like Los Angeles, for example. Right now, homeowners are paying 43 percent of their income on their mortgages. San Jose residents are paying 42.5 percent and San Francisco homeowners are paying 42.2 percent. These are among the highest in the nation. The next-highest percentage that isn’t in the state of California is New York City. Owners there spend 26.7 percent of their incomes on home payments.

What about renters?

For many years, mortgage payments were fairly affordable, which meant buying a home was more enticing. That put renters in a bind as monthly payments climbed to new highs. Nationally, Americans are setting aside almost 30 percent of their income to pay their rent. The slight dip — .2 percent — from this time last year, has helped.

“On the rental side, rent appreciation has slowed lately, giving renters’ incomes a chance to catch up as many are already committing a larger share of their income to a monthly rental payment,” Gudell says.

If you’re looking for a cheap place to rent, head to Missouri. In St. Louis and Kansas City, renters are only paying 23 percent of their incomes toward rent. It’s the same in Pittsburgh. Atlanta, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Minneapolis renters also pay less than 27 percent of their incomes toward rent.

But what if you are ready to buy?

If you’re finally ready to jump into homebuyer status, where you buy matters. Texas has some of the lowest cost-of-living in the country. Right now Dallas-Fort Worth homebuyers are paying 15 percent of their income to mortgage payments each month. This area is among some of the lowest-paying metro areas in the country.

While Pittsburgh and Indianapolis homeowners are paying the least — 11.2 percent — they aren’t the only places in the nation that have historically cheap mortgage payments right now. Kansas City, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit homeowners all pay less than 12 percent of their income per month on mortgages.

Unfortunately, with the upcoming raise in the federal funds rate from The Federal Reserve and rising home values, hopeful homebuyers won’t be paying historic lows for long.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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