The salary you need to earn to buy a home right now in the 25 biggest US cities

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The United States economy may be doing great, but middle-class homebuyers are still struggling.

Home prices across the US continued to rise in the third quarter of 2018 – 93% of metros had sales-price gains, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

In addition, the supply of available mid-priced homes remains low and mortgage rates went up last quarter, further stifling long-term affordability for middle-class homebuyers, said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun in a press release.

California is a particularly difficult market. The state is home to four of the top-five most expensive housing markets in the country and in the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas, buyers must earn over $200,000 to qualify for a mortgage with 20% down, according to NAR data. It’s no wonder Californians are fleeing to cheaper cities like Boise.

Each quarter, NAR calculates qualifying income requirements for all US metropolitan-statistical areas assuming the buyer puts 25% of gross income toward the mortgage principal and interest. The calculations are done for 5%, 10%, and 20% down payments at a 3.9% interest rate. Metro areas are based on the US Census definitions.

Below, we’ve pulled the qualifying annual income amounts for the 25 largest metros by population, ranked from lowest to highest qualifying income. Detroit and Pittsburgh are not included because of insufficient data.

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