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Report: Rising home prices put a crimp on home affordability for more professions

A home buyer in Tampa Bay needs to make at least $31,309 to afford a typical house and $29,200 to afford renting even a one-bedroom apartment

That's cheaper than in about three-fourths of other metro areas nationwide.

But the 11 percent increase over what local home buyers had to pull in a year ago is a steeper jump than in most other places. And, according to an analysis being released today by the Center for Housing Policy, housing prices are still high enough here to price a lot of professions out of the market.

Bank tellers, office clerks, cashiers, child care workers and delivery truck drivers all make, on average, less than needed to buy a median-priced home in the Tampa Bay area costing $118,000. So do construction laborers, school bus drivers, fast-food cooks, home health aides, hairdressers and nursing aides.

The good news: The incomes of the vast majority of occupations — from elementary school teachers and social workers to loan officers and telemarketers — are above that home-buying threshold.

In its latest national report, the Center for Housing Policy honed in on five professions tied to the travel and tourism industry: housekeepers, wait staffers, auto mechanics, front desk managers and flight attendants.

Nationally, only one of those groups — flight attendants — has an average wage high enough to afford the mortgage on a median-priced home. Housekeepers and wait staffers didn't make enough to afford the typical rent on either a one- or two-bedroom apartment in any of the 207 metro areas studied.

"One of the most overlooked aspects of this recovery is that for many workers, incomes are not rebounding in step with the local housing markets," report co-author Maya Brennan said. "Even in a strong sector like travel and tourism, wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership."

In Tampa Bay, the picture for travel/tourism was slightly better. Auto mechanics and front desk managers, along with flight attendants, all make more than enough to afford a median home here. With an average wage of $63,413, flight attendants make about twice as much as the annual income needed to qualify.

The Center for Housing Policy is the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference.

In calculating the annual income needed to rent, the housing policy group used the benchmark that rent should not exceed 30 percent of income. The estimated income for buying a median-priced home was based on the average prevailing interest rate, a 10 percent down payment and use of private mortgage insurance.

The report may have understated the current paycheck gap, however, as housing prices are based on first-quarter figures from a National Association of Home Builders' housing index. The index shows that Tampa Bay home prices rose to $123,000 in the second quarter, and more recent data show that sales prices continue to escalate.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at or (727) 893-8242.

Who can afford what

For a closer look at home buying and renting affordability for various professions, go to

Report: Rising home prices put a crimp on home affordability for more professions 08/15/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 12:51pm]
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