Financial Fitness


Home affordability watch: The 10 fastest-growing metro areas

Posted at 4:23 PM, Oct 09, 2018

Raise your hand if you know someone who has moved to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston recently. A lot of hands went up, because those are the three fastest-growing metropolitan areas — and they have relatively affordable home prices, too.

Each quarter, NerdWallet calculates home affordability for 172 metro areas. NerdWallet narrowed its focus this quarter to the 10 metros that had the most population growth from mid-2016 to mid-2017, the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Among these 10, Atlanta had the most affordable home prices this spring and Seattle had the least affordable.

The top three metros on this list have two things in common, says Danielle Hale, chief economist for They have space to grow, with few physical barriers such as mountains and oceans, and they have local governments that “are more willing to permit and allow development, too.”

Affordability was calculated by comparing incomes and median home prices. A place with high incomes and low home prices is more affordable than an area with low incomes and high home prices.

Here are the 10 fastest-growing metro areas, ranked from most to least affordable for buying a home in the second quarter of 2018. The rankings were compiled using data from the National Association of Realtors, the U.S. Census Bureau and NerdWallet surveys.

» MORE: How much home can you afford in your area?

Fastest-growing metro areas by housing affordability in Q2

1. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia

Median home price: $228,800

Median household income: $62,613

Principal and interest payment: $950 (equivalent to 18.2% of median monthly income)

Atlanta had the lowest median house price among the 10 fastest-growing metro areas, yet it had the fifth-highest household income. The combination of good wages and low house prices put Atlanta at the top for house affordability. It added 89,013 people in 12 months, making it the third-fastest-growing metro.

2. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

Median home price: $244,400

Median household income: $61,708

Principal and interest payment: $1,015 (19.7% of monthly income)

The Houston metro area added 94,417 to its population in the 12 months of the Census estimate. It was the second-fastest-growing metro area during that period, which ended before Hurricane Harvey swamped the city in August 2017. The Houston area’s affordability comes courtesy of having this list’s third-lowest house prices and sixth-highest household income.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

Median home price: $268,200

Median household income: $63,812

Principal and interest payment: $1,114 (21% of monthly income)

The Metroplex was the nation’s fastest-growing metro area, swelling by 146,238 in one year, according to the Census. It had the fourth-highest income on the list and the fourth-lowest house prices, giving it third-place ranking in affordability.

4. Washington, D.C., metro area

Median home price: $443,100

Median household income: $95,843

Principal and interest payment: $1,841 (23% of monthly income)

Homes are expensive in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area, which sprawls across the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. Prices were second-highest among these 10 metros, behind only Seattle. But incomes were the highest on this list, raising the metro area’s affordability ranking. The D.C. metro grew by 65,908 in 12 months, ranking fifth in growth.

5. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

Median home price: $330,200

Median household income: $71,000

Principal and interest payment: $1,372 (23.2% of monthly income)

The Texas capital had the fourth-highest house prices among the fastest-growing metro areas, and the third-highest household income. It added 55,269 to its population in one year, ranking ninth.

6. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

Median home price: $238,700

Median household income: $51,115

Principal and interest payment: $992 (23.3% of monthly income)

Tampa-St. Pete had the second-lowest house prices on this list. But affordability took a hit because the metro area had the lowest household income. It was the 10th-fastest-growing metro area, adding 54,874 to its population.

7. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona

Median home price: $272,000

Median household income: $58,075

Principal and interest payment: $1,130 (23.3% of monthly income)

The fourth-fastest-growing metro area had the third-lowest household income on this list, along with the fifth-highest home prices. It added 88,772 to its population.

8. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida

Median home price: $269,000

Median household income: $52,385

Principal and interest payment: $1,117 (25.6% of monthly income)

This central Florida tourist magnet had the second-lowest incomes on this list, trailing only Tampa-St. Pete a short drive away on Interstate 4. But house prices were higher, striking a blow to affordability. It had the eighth-fastest population growth, at 56,498.

9. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California

Median home price: $360,000

Median household income: $58,236

Principal and interest payment: $1,495 (30.8% of monthly income)

With the third-highest house prices among the top 10, but the fourth-lowest household income, many residents of the Inland Empire have to stretch to afford a home. It was the seventh-fastest-growing metro area, adding 57,017.

10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

Median home price: $530,300

Median household income: $78,612

Principal and interest payment: $2,203 (33.6% of monthly income)

The Emerald City had the second-highest household income among the top 10, but it also had the highest house prices. With a typical house costing more than half a million dollars, it’s difficult to afford a house payment even on Seattle’s relatively high incomes. Mortgage principal and interest for the median house would take up more than one-third of the median household income. Despite the affordability constraint, it was the sixth-fastest-growing metro area, adding 64,386.

How NerdWallet crunched the data

Affordability was estimated by comparing each metro area’s median annual household income with the monthly principal-and-interest payment for a median-priced single-family home in the second quarter. (Median means half the incomes and prices are higher and half are lower.) After a 20% down payment, house payments were calculated at an interest rate of 4.71%, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the second quarter in NerdWallet’s daily mortgage rates survey. Payments exclude insurance and property taxes.

The 10 fastest-growing metro areas were determined from Census estimates for the period of July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017. Metro-area median national income is from the Census American Community Survey of 2016. Median prices for resales of existing homes in the second quarter came from the National Association of Realtors.

A version of this article was originally published by The Associated Press.

More From NerdWallet