A look at areas where millennials struggle to buy first home

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Say this about New York: If you can afford a first home there, you can probably afford one anywhere.

The same is true for San Francisco and, to a lesser extent, other hot job markets around the country for America's millennial adults, who range in age from roughly 18 to 34. The challenge is that few millennials earn enough money to buy a home in these locales.

Prices have climbed to increasingly unaffordable levels while incomes have remained relatively flat. A result is that younger adults are renting for longer periods before buying their first home. A new analysis by the real estate firm Zillow found that the typical income for a first-time buyer is $54,340, pretty much the same as it was in the late 1970s after adjusting for inflation.

Over the same period, the median home price for this group, after inflation, has surged 42 percent to $140,328. The problem is that your situation can vary widely depending on where you live.

The median 33-year-old who is buying a first home spends 2.6 times his or her income on the property. Yet that looks like a relative bargain compared with New York, San Francisco and several other leading job markets. Zillow found that the price-to-income ratio in those areas is high for practically everyone — not just first-time buyers — meaning many have no choice but to keep renting.

Here are the metro areas where jobs are relatively plentiful but median home values significantly exceed the typical incomes: