Affordable homeownership out of reach for many in region, study says

March 23, 2010|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

Interest rates and home prices haven't fallen enough to put homeownership in reach of many moderate-income workers in the Baltimore area, a new study suggests.

A home buyer would need to make $70,000 to afford the Baltimore metro area's median home price of $235,000, according to the Paycheck to Paycheck report released Tuesday morning by the Center for Housing Policy. But local police officers and elementary school teachers make about $52,000, licensed practical nurses make about $41,000 and retail salespeople earn about $23,000, the center said.

Of the 208 metro areas the center studied, Baltimore is tied with Salinas, Calif., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for 29th most expensive. The report looked at prices in the last three months of 2009.

"Home price drops have made homeownership more affordable for some workers, but a lot of workers in a lot of jobs are still priced out," said Maya Brennan, senior research associate at the center.

The metro area's rental options are also on the pricey side, with a fair-market rent of $1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment. A worker would need to make just over $23 an hour to avoid spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on that rent, the center said.

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