Minneapolis-St. Paul does not have the cheapest housing stock in the nation, but its higher wages make it the most affordable city for home ownership among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas, according to a new report.
Interest.com calculated its new rankings based on several criteria. The study found that the median household income in the Twin Cities is a little more than $67,000 -- nearly $15,000 above the national average -- and the median-priced home is nearly $213,000.
The margin isn't as great as last year, but the median income exceeds the wage requirements for purchasing a home by 23 percent. These figures, when combined with median property taxes and homeowners insurance rates, helped lift Minneapolis-St. Paul from the No. 2 spot in 2013 to No. 1 this year.
“The places that are the most unaffordable are locked in by some geographic constraint. Minneapolis (area) can grow 360 degrees. Most of the time when you talk about this, you talk about sprawl and you think of it in negative terms. But the bottom line is,sprawl keeps your prices down," said Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com.
Atlanta won the crown last year, but swapped rank with the Twin Cities this year. St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Phoenix, Washington, Dallas and Houston rounded out the top ten.
Interest.com suggests that median-income workers cannot afford a home in the remaining large metro areas because the wages don't match the real estate costs.
San Francisco, not surprisingly, scrapes the bottom with San Diego, New York, Los Angeles and Miami also receiving "F" scorecards. Moving up from the bottom, the other unaffordable cities are Boston, Seattle, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Tampa.
“Low mortgage rates are helping home affordability to some extent, but the key ingredient – which has been missing to this point – is substantial income growth,” Sante said in a statement. "Affordability would improve at a faster pace if wage growth would pick up."
For comparison, the median-income earner in Minneapolis-St.Paul may make about $10,000 less than the median-income earner in San Francisco. But, the median-home price in the Twin Cities is $213,000 to San Francisco's $770,000 -- a gap that the wage difference doesn't even come close to making up.
Sante says Minneapolis-St. Paul has a great housing market with better median-priced inventory than other cities, but says wages have to keep growing.
Year-over-year wages grew by an average of 2 percent across the 25 largest metropolitan areas, but the Twin Cities only grew 1.38 percent this year.
“If that continues, homes in the Twin Cities will be much less affordable in a decade,” Sante said.