Metro Phoenix’s calling card to new residents has long been its affordable home prices.
Valley home prices are steadily climbing, but the region’s houses are still bargains compared to much of California, Seattle, Denver, Chicago and even Las Vegas.
Metro Phoenix is the eighth most affordable big U.S. city to buy a house now, according to a new ranking from a reputable financial research firm.
Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, Atlanta and Tampa are the only cities (in that order) to rank above Phoenix for the ease of someone making the area’s average salary being able to afford an average-priced house.
In metro Phoenix, a homebuyer needs to earn at least $43,100 to be able to buy one of the region’s median-priced houses for $217,900, according to HSH.com.
Since the Valley’s household income is hovering around $50,000, it would appear more than half the area’s residents, families or households could afford to buy instead of rent.
Down payments are one of the biggest hurdles for many homebuyers now, particularly first timers. Tougher lending standards imposed by banks after the housing crash have made 20 percent down payments the new norm for many homebuyers.
But first-time buyers do have a few more options in the Valley, particularly as the federal government and local groups have stepped up to help this group that had little to nothing to do with the bad loans that caused the housing crash.
President Barack Obama announced in Phoenix early this year that the insurance premium on Federal Housing Administration-back mortgages, used mostly by first-time buyers, would be cut in half. Also, several programs allow buyers to put as little as 3 percent down on these government loans.
The Arizona Housing Department has a program that gives eligible buyers $5,000 or more in down payment help on FHA loans that require less money upfront.
Finding a house priced below $220,000 in a good area that at least five other buyers haven’t already made an offer can be tougher.