(NEXSTAR) – A dizzying surge in real estate prices over recent years has raised previously-affordable homes out of reach for many across the U.S., so is it still possible to find a house listed at less than $150,000?
Analysts from Point2 Homes, a real estate research company, looked at the 50 largest U.S. cities to find out how many — if any — homes were available at that price.
While setting your Zillow filters at $150,000-and-under might call up a number of listings in some smaller cities and towns across the country, so-called “starter homes” are scarce in many metropolises.
U.S. home prices in February, 2022 — including distressed sales — jumped 20% over the same time in 2021, consumer reporting agency CoreLogic found.
In fact, there are five cities where, during the last week of March when the data was collected, there were no listings under $150,000: San Francisco, California; Irvine, California; Oakland, California; Gilbert, Arizona; and Henderson, Nevada.
In half of the 50 cities, homes with sub-$150K price tags made up less than 1% of all listings.
If you prefer to be in a desirable city but need to stretch your money, there are two locations to add to your home search — Mesa, Arizona, and St. Petersburg, Florida — where homes under $150K made up between 10 and 15% of total listings.
Following up Mesa and St. Petersburg are Dallas, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Bakersfield, California; Santa Ana, California; Fresno, California; Riverside, California; and Sacramento, California.
Contrary to what common sense might suggest, the author points out that the average home price isn't a great indicator of the share of affordable homes.
The average price of a house in Mesa, Arizona, is comparable to that of Sacramento, California, but the share of sub-$150,000 listings in the California capital is much lower — 3.44% vs. 14.82%, respectively.
While some cities notorious for lofty valuations (such as San Francisco) had no affordable listings, others did. In Honolulu for example, where the median price is $870,000, the share of listings under $150K is nearly 5%, and in Santa Ana, California, where the average home price is $779,900, the share of listings is 4.39%.
The report found that a higher median price didn't always mean low inventory either, further complicating the debate over home affordability in the U.S.
"Zoning laws and land prices also play a major role in the affordability debate, but many other factors influence this aspect as well," the study pointed out.
An added wrinkle to the difficult situation that first-time homebuyers find themselves in across the U.S. is how rising mortgage rates will change things. While higher rates could knock down demand, causing home-price growth to slow, they would also limit buyers' purchasing power.
So far in 2022, there haven't been many bright spots for buyers, as affordability continues to be an issue: The National Association of Realtors found that the average U.S. home price spiked 15% in February over the previous year, reaching $357,300 nationally.
“It’s hard to believe, but I do think it’s going to be tougher this year, in some respects, than it was in previous years,” Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, told the Associated Press. “So far, at least, we have seen the number of homes for sale continue to decline and prices continue to rise. Those two factors combined suggest that the competitive market is going to keep buyers on their toes.”