As homebuyers prepare for a competitive house shopping season, certain markets offer more favorable conditions in terms of what buyers can afford to purchase.
Demand for housing has continued outpacing supply, putting upward pressure on home prices and creating affordability hurdles for consumers. Rising mortgage rates are also causing greater financial challenges for potential homeowners.
But, specific markets, like Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh, offer more comfortable circumstances for homebuyers, according to the latest results of First American Financial Corp.'s Real House Price Index.
Steadying home price appreciation, a low median sales price and the amount buyers can afford to buy based on market-specific incomes and interest rates all pave the way for greater purchasing power in these cities compared to other areas in the country.
San Jose, Calif., reported the lowest level of purchasing power of all cities, with real house prices growing almost 18% from a year ago and a median sales price over $1 million, on top of the rise in rates.
Nationwide, the RHPI grew 5.1% year-over-year in February, indicating homebuyers have less purchasing power overall. Mortgage rates also reached their highest level in four years, growing to 4.58% for the week ending April 26, according to Freddie Mac.
Still, factors like increased income help homebuyers' ability to afford more, especially in certain areas. The average household income rose to $61,963 in February, up from $60,295 during the same period last year.
Here's a look at 12 cities with a median sales price under $200,000, ranked by lowest RHPI value. The data, from the First American Real House Price Index, measures home price changes, taking local wages and mortgage rates into account "to better reflect consumers' purchasing power and capture the true cost of housing." The "house buying power" reflects the price a typical buyer in that market can afford, based on local wages and interest rates. The February 2018 data is ranked by RHPI value, where a reading of 100 is equal to conditions in January 2000.