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10 States With the Least Affordable Homes

Christine DiGangi

In most parts of the country, a family with a median household income should — ideally — be able to afford a median-priced home in that area. In fact, an analysis of county-level data from RealtyTrac showed that a monthly payment on a median-priced home was more affordable than fair-market rent on a three-bedroom unit in 76% of counties studied, making buying a home the more economical choice for many Americans.

Of course, there's a lot more at play when determining if you can afford a house than looking at your paycheck and the rental market — buying a house often requires a home loan, which can be tougher to come by if you don't have good credit. At the same time, a good credit score will only get you so far in the home-buying process, because if housing in your area is exceptionally expensive, even a median household income may not get you much house. (This calculator can show you how much house you can afford.)

To determine the states where housing is least affordable, the Corporation for Enterprise Development divided the state's median housing value by the median family income in that state, according to 2013 Census data. A breakdown of all 50 states and the District of Columbia is available through its Assets & Opportunity Scorecard tool. Here are the states with the least affordable homes.

10. (tie) Rhode Island
2013 median housing value: $232,300
2013 median household income: $55,902
Ratio of median housing value to median income: 4.2

10. (tie) Vermont
2013 median housing value: $218,300
2013 median household income: $52,578
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.2

8. Washington
2013 median housing value: $250,800
2013 median household income: $58,405
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.3

7. New Jersey
2013 median housing value: $307,700
2013 median household income: $70,165
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.4

6. Oregon
2013 median housing value: $229,700
2013 median household income: $50,251
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.6

5. New York
2013 median housing value: $277,600
2013 median household income: $57,369
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.8

4. Massachusetts
2013 median housing value: $327,200
2013 median household income: $66,768
Ratio of housing value to income: 4.9

3. California
2013 median housing value: $373,100
2013 median household income: $60,190
Ratio of housing value to income: 6.2

2. District of Columbia
2013 median housing value: $470,500
2013 median household income: $67,572
Ratio of housing value to income: 7

1. Hawaii
2013 median housing value: $500,000
2013 median household income: $68,020
Ratio of housing value to income: 7.4

Those are some eye-popping figures, especially if you're from the other end of the spectrum, like Iowa or Michigan, where the median home price is just 2.4 times the median income in those states. Places like Hawaii, D.C. and California are significant outliers, though.

Nationwide, the median-priced home ($173,900) is 3.3 times the median household income ($52,250), but homeownership remains out of reach for many Americans. Homeownership rates are at their lowest level in more than two decades, partially due to tight credit in the mortgage market. To have the best chance at getting a home loan, borrowers need to focus on improving their credit standing (you can track your credit scores for free on Credit.com) and paying down debt, so they can prove their ability to repay a home loan.


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