How much you have to earn to buy a home in 23 of the most expensive places in the US right now

In San Francisco, you need to make over $173,000 to qualify for a mortgage.

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In San Francisco, you need to make over $173,000 to qualify for a mortgage.
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Courtesy of Sherry Juneja, Skybox Realty

  • Home prices increased in 92% of the largest 177 metro areas in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the previous year.
  • Incomes aren’t keeping up with home prices, making it more difficult for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage in the most expensive markets.
  • The salary needed to qualify in the top-five metro areas – four of which are located in California – exceeds $115,00.

US housing supply fell to an all-time low in the fourth quarter of 2017 and home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

By the end of December, there were 1.48 million existing homes available for sale – 10.3% less than were on the market the same time last year.

NAR reports that while the national median family income rose to $74,492, increasing mortgage rates and home prices are affecting Americans’ ability to buy a home, specifically in the country’s most expensive housing markets.

“A majority of the country saw an upswing in buyer interest at the end of last year, which ultimately ended up putting even more strain on inventory levels and prices,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48% since 2011, yet during this same timeframe, incomes are up only 15%,” Yun said. While price gains have been a boon for homeowners, it’s putting a strain on buyers and local markets that can’t keep up with demand.

Using NAR’s data on housing affordability, we gathered a list of the US metro areas where the minimum salary required to qualify for a mortgage, after a 20% down payment, is highest. NAR assumes a mortgage rate of 3.9% for all areas, with the monthly principle and interest payment limited to 25% of income.

Notably, the salary needed to qualify in the top-five metro areas – four of which are located in California – exceeds $115,000.

For the US as a whole, the average qualifying income is $46,808 and the median home price is $247,800 (though slightly down from the third quarter, it’s up 5.3% year-over-year).

Below, check out how much you need to earn to buy a home in the most expensive housing markets, and what the median home will cost you.

The following markets are based on metropolitan statistical areas, with the exception of Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, which are metropolitan divisions.


23. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont

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A 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom in Burlington listed for $278,000.
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Courtesy of Jarvis & Titus Realty Group, Keller Williams Green Mountain

Population: 214,363

Median sale price: $286,100

Salary needed to buy: $54,043


22. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

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This 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom Austin home is listed for $296,000.
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Courtesy of Judith Bundschuh, Catalyst Realty

Population: 2,000,860

Median sale price: $293,200

Salary needed to buy: $55,384


21. Salt Lake City, Utah

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A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom in Salt Lake City listed for $289,900.
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Courtesy of Bob Plumb

Population: 1,170,266

Median sale price: $315,100

Salary needed to buy: $59,521


20. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida

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A 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom Miami home for sale for $339,900.
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Courtesy of Alexander Cuffia, E & V Sunny Isles Beach

Population: 6,012,331

Median sale price: $335,000

Salary needed to buy: $63,280


19. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California

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This 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Ontario is listed for $338,000.
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Courtesy of Flor Roman

Population: 4,489,159

Median sale price: $340,000

Salary needed to buy: $64,224


18. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden Arcade, California

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This 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom Sacramento home is listed for $344,900.
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Courtesy of Jeanine Roza, Coldwell Banker

Population: 2,274,194

Median sale price: $349,900

Salary needed to buy: $66,094


17. Reno, Nevada

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This 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home in Reno is listed for $350,000.
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Courtesy of Tiffany Ahrens, Chase International

Population: 450,890

Median sale price: $356,900

Salary needed to buy: $67,417


16. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon/Washington

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This 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom in Portland is listed for $389,000.
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Courtesy of Jewel Stockli, Berkshire Hathaway

Population: 2,389,228

Median sale price: $380,400

Salary needed to buy: $71,856


15. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania

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A 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom in Newark for sale for $419,000.
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Dina Padilla, Newark – Weichert Realtors

Population: 20,182,305

Median sale price: $395,900

Salary needed to buy: $74,784


14. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Washington, DC/Virginia/Maryland

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A 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom home in Washington, DC, listed for $405,000.
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Courtesy of Stephanie Cooper

Population: 6,097,684

Median sale price: $397,100

Salary needed to buy: $75,010


13. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

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A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Barnstable listed for $379,900.
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Courtesy of Renata Vieira, EXIT Cape Realty

Population: 214,333

Median sale price: $398,700

Salary needed to buy: $75,312


12. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado

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A 4-bedroom, 1-bathroom Denver home listed for $425,000.
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Courtesy of Carol Duncan, Keller Williams

Population: 2,814,330

Median sale price: $414,400

Salary needed to buy: $78,278


11. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

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A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom for sale in Stamford for $409,000.
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Courtesy of Barbara Hickey, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty

Population: 948,053

Median sale price: $428,800

Salary needed to buy: $80,998


10. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida

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A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Naples listed for $437,000.
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Courtesy of Bridget Fagan, John R. Wood Properties

Population: 357,305

Median sale price: $438,500

Salary needed to buy: $82,830


9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts/New Hampshire

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This 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom Boston home is listed for $469,000.
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Courtesy of Liza Carreiro, Cana Realty, LLC

Population: 4,774,321

Median sale price: $448,500

Salary needed to buy: $84,719


8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

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A 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom in Seattle listed for $470,000.
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Courtesy of Peter and Rachel Badgett, Urban Properties

Population: 3,733,580

Median sale price: $471,700

Salary needed to buy: $89,102


7. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California

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A 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home for sale in Los Angeles for $599,999.
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Courtesy of DSCVR Properties via Trulia

Population: 10,170,292

Median sale price: $541,200

Salary needed to buy: $104,516


6. Boulder, Colorado

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This 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Boulder is listed for $597,500.
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Courtesy of Karen Bernardi, Coldwell Banker

Population: 319,372

Median sale price: $546,400

Salary needed to buy: $103,212


5. San Diego-Carlsbad, California

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A 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom San Diego home listed for $605,000.
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Courtesy of Natalie Stenehjem, Big Block Realty, Inc.

Population: 3,299,521

Median sale price: $610,000

Salary needed to buy: $115,226


4. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

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A 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home listed for $759,000 in Honolulu.
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Courtesy of Locations Hawaii

Population: 998,714

Median sale price: $760,600

Salary needed to buy: $143,674


3. Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California

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This 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home in Anaheim is listed for $789,900.
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Courtesy of Jim Salem, First Team Real Estate

Population: 3,169,776

Median sale price: $785,000

Salary needed to buy: $148,283


2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

In San Francisco, you need to make over $173,000 to qualify for a mortgage.

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A 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom in San Francisco listed for $899,000.
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Courtesy of Sherry Juneja, Skybox Realty

Population: 4,656,132

Median sale price: $920,000

Salary needed to buy: $173,783


1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

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A 5-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom San Jose house on the market for $1.1 million.
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Courtesy of David Frazer, Coldwell Banker

Population: 1,976,836

Median sale price: $1,270,000

Salary needed to buy: $239,897