By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
Are you a middle-class American looking to buy a home? Head to the Midwestern United States — and make sure you stay away from California. That was a recommendation of real estate research firm Trulia’s list of the least and most expensive U.S. housing markets for today’s middle class.
According to Trulia, affordability has worsened in the past year. Home prices have climbed faster than incomes and mortgage rates have risen. As the nation recovers from the last housing crash, homes are still relatively affordable. And even though prices continue to rise, they are still below pre-recession levels. But homeownership is out of the reach of the middle class in many markets, especially along the coasts.
If you really want to buy a home, you should definitely start your search in Ohio. Last year, Coldwell Banker named Cleveland the most affordable city in the United States. Second on that list was Garfield Heights, a city in the Cleveland metro area. Now, Trulia reports that five of the top 10 most affordable housing markets for the middle class are located in the Buckeye State.
Akron tops the list, with 86 percent of the homes in the area affordable for the middle class. It shares the podium with two other Ohio cities, Toledo (with 84 percent) and Dayton (with 83 percent). The top 10 also includes Columbus, in sixth place, and Cleveland, in eighth place. In both areas, 81 percent of the homes are affordable for the middle class. The remaining markets in the top 10 are Gary, Ind.; Columbia, S.C.; Detroit; Little Rock, Ark.; and Rochester, N.Y.
The Cincinnati area came close to making the top 10. It occupied 13th place, out of 100, with 80 percent of the homes affordable to the middle class.
But if Ohio is the hero, then the villain is definitely California. Seven of the 10 least affordable markets are located in the Golden State. San Francisco occupies first place with only 14 percent of its homes affordable for the middle class. It is followed by Los Angeles (23 percent) and Orange County (24 percent). San Diego, Ventura County, San Jose and Oakland are the other California markets on the list. That list also includes two East Coast markets, New York and Fairfield County, Conn., as well as Honolulu.
According to Trulia, middle-class affordability will continue to worsen in the nation’s most expensive markets. It’s not expected to improve in the long term without any new construction.