Ever look at your budget and feel like the cost of a home is putting you under? You’re not alone. According to a recent report, the average American can’t afford a home in more than 70 percent of the United States. This report comes from ATTOM Data Solutions, where researchers looked at data from 473 counties across the country. Of those counties, 335 had median home prices higher than the average worker could afford.
And make no mistake: This isn’t just the obvious high-cost-of-living places like Washington, D.C., or New York City. Maricopa County in Arizona, Miami-Dade County in Florida, and both San Diego and Los Angeles counties in California made the list. (Admittedly, L.A.’s inclusion on the list is far from surprising).
Speaking of NYC, however, people living in Brooklyn and Manhattan have to spend an incredible percentage of their income to buy a home. What is “incredible,” you ask? A whopping 115 percent of their income. Compare that to the average one-third of their income that earners need to spend nationwide.
Other superexpensive areas include Maui County in Hawaii, where the income percentage is 101 percent, and San Francisco, where it’s 103 percent. Yikes.
In contrast, it’s easier to find (relatively) affordable housing in Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, and Cleveland.
Long term, however, “affordability may improve because of the simple fact that homes are out of reach for so many home seekers," Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions, told CBS.
Talking about affordability when it comes to buying is one thing. Affordability when it comes to renting is no easier. In fact, for most people, being able to entertain even the possibility of buying a home is a privileged option to have. Whether it’s qualifying for a mortgage or having enough saved for a down payment, home ownership isn’t accessible to everyone. And while renting can have obvious advantages, it doesn’t come with many of the financial perks that ownership does.
This framing ignores the structural barriers many people face when it comes to racial bias, lack of accessible options, discrimination against same-sex couples, and so on. Once you get the money, it doesn’t necessarily make buying a home easier. But money, obviously, helps.
Just how much are people spending on rent? According to a report from RENTCafe Blog, millennials will spend an average of $92,600 on rent alone between the ages of 22 and 30. For the purpose of this report, millennials were defined as being born between the 1980s and mid-1990s. Interestingly, even adjusted for inflation, millennials are still expected to spend roughly $10,000 more than what Generation X paid during the same age period. And when compared to baby boomers, they’re spending just over $20,000 more. Wow.
And this doesn’t even factor in how many people are carrying student loan debt. Many of us have heard that student debt is a crisis to the tune of $1.5 trillion collectively. This breaks down to the average student borrowing almost $40,000. This is about $20,000 more than the norm less than two decades ago.
To put this figure a different way, roughly 70 percent of college students graduate with debt. Between the high cost of rent and student debt, how can anyone without inherited wealth expect to buy a home? And again, accessing college to begin with is a privilege. For people without degrees (who may be burdened with other unjust debt, like medical debt), building enough wealth to purchase a home may still feel insurmountable.
What’s Trump doing to help? Oh, you know: nothing. But on the bright side, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has released yet another detailed plan. This one aims to reduce rent costs by 10 percent. And because it focuses on construction, it would also create 1.5 million new jobs, according to Warren.
She shared her plan on Twitter and made it extremely user-friendly on Medium. It’s definitely worth a read; as with everything from the senator from Massachusetts, it’s extremely thorough.