Redfin deems a monthly mortgage payment as “affordable” if it doesn’t exceed more than 30% of the homebuyer’s income.
Across the U.S., Redfin says that the average homebuyer had to earn $107,281 per year to afford their mortgage payment in October 2022. This was a 45.6% increase from the past October when the number sat at $73,668.
For Portland homebuyers, in particular, $145,306 in total earnings was needed to afford a mortgage in October 2022. Back in just October 2021, they would have needed $100,146.
This growth has been partially attributed to two factors: high mortgage rates and the ever-growing cost of homes. Furthermore, during this same timeframe, Redfin reports that the U.S. hourly wage merely increased by 5%.
Minimal pay gains coupled with inflation pose challenges for people in the market for a new home.
“High rates are making buyers rethink their priorities, as many of them can no longer afford the home they want in the location they want,” Chelsea Traylor, a Redfin agent based in Washington, D.C., said. “If you had a $900,000 budget a few months ago, rising rates mean it’s now around $700,000 — and sellers aren’t dropping their prices enough to make up for the change. So buyers are searching further away from the city in more affordable areas or waiting for prices and/or rates to come down before making a move.”
The median sale price for Portland homes this past October was $540,000, according to Redfin. In October 2021, it was a bit lower at $515,000.
Homebuyers in nearby cities are experiencing a spike in prices as well. In Seattle, someone has to earn $205,312 a year to afford the monthly mortgage payments. In October 2021, they would have had to earn $140,982.
Many real estate agents are also telling homebuyers to consider the big picture.
“I’m encouraging buyers to think long-term,” Traylor said. “Prices are unlikely to fall drastically in the long run, so buying a home now — if you can afford the monthly payment — will still help you build wealth over time, especially if you plan to live in it for several years. Even though rates are high, another advantage of buying now is the lack of competition and opportunity to negotiate with sellers.”