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Average Person Can't Afford Average House in 10 of 11 CO Counties Analyzed

Average Person Can't Afford Average House in 10 of 11 CO Counties Analyzed
Thinkstock file photo
In recent years, high costs have made home ownership seem like an impossible dream for plenty of people in Denver and other parts of Colorado despite the strong economy. And in the first quarter of 2018, the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better. According to a new study, the average wage earner in ten of eleven Colorado counties analyzed, including six in Denver metro, can't afford a median-priced home in the area.

The numbers come from ATTOM Data Solutions, and the findings aren't stellar in the country as a whole — though the overall digits are certainly better than in Colorado. ATTOM examined housing scenarios in 446 U.S. counties, with 304 of them, or 68 percent, falling short. In Colorado, that figure is 91 percent, with Pueblo being the only county that made the grade. The other Colorado counties included in the study are Adams, Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, Denver, Boulder, Larimer, Mesa, Weld and El Paso — all of them among the state's most populous.

ATTOM determined affordability by calculating how much income would be needed to make monthly house payments, including mortgage, property taxes and insurance, on a median-priced home in each county — and if the average person had to pay more than 28 percent of his annual wages to cover the cost, the county was deemed unaffordable.

As an example, take Adams County. The annual income needed to buy a median-priced home there is $84,020, but the annualized average weekly wages there only come to $52,468. That means such a person would have to spend 44.8 percent of her or his wages on the house — way over the 28 percent threshold. And Adams's score of 77 on ATTOM's affordability index, which establishes any number under 100 as being less affordable than the historic average, is one of the five lowest in the entire country — higher than Santa Fe, New Mexico (72) and Grayson County, Texas (75), but only slightly lower than Ellis County, Texas (78), and Denver, which notched a 79.

The digits for all eleven Colorado counties are collected below, and a slew of line items are provided: the historic percentage of wages needed to buy a median-priced home, the median sales price, the growth percentage for wages and home prices, plus the affordability index score and whether's it's gone up, down or stayed the same. Note that the purchase of a median-priced home assumes a 3 percent down payment and a 28 percent maximum front-end debt-to-income (or DTI) ratio.

Adams County. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Adams County.
YouTube file photo
County: Adams
State: Colorado
Median Home Price Affordable for Avg Wage Earner?: NO

Annual Income Need to Buy (3% Down and 28% Front-End DTI): $84,020
Annualized Avg Weekly Wages: $52,468
Historic Pct of Wages to Buy: $0.3
Pct of Annualized Wages to Buy: 44.8%
First Quarter 2018 Affordability Index (Under 100 is Less Affordable Than Historic Average): 77
First Quarter 2018 Median Sales Price: $322,000
Year-Over-Year Annualized Wage Growth: 2%
Year-Over-Year Median Home Price Growth: 11%
Year-Over-Year Pct Change In Affordability Index: -7%


click to enlarge Jefferson County. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Jefferson County.
YouTube file photo
County: Jefferson
State: Colorado
Median Home Price Affordable for Avg Wage Earner?: NO

Annual Income Need to Buy (3% Down and 28% Front-End DTI): $100,357
Annualized Avg Weekly Wages: $55,926
Historic Pct of Wages to Buy: $0.4
Pct of Annualized Wages to Buy: 50.2%
First Quarter 2018 Affordability Index (Under 100 is Less Affordable Than Historic Average): 85
First Quarter 2018 Median Sales Price: $382,000
Year-Over-Year Annualized Wage Growth: 4%
Year-Over-Year Median Home Price Growth: 8%
Year-Over-Year Pct Change In Affordability Index: -2%


click to enlarge Douglas County. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Douglas County.
YouTube file photo
County: Douglas
State: Colorado
Median Home Price Affordable for Avg Wage Earner?: NO

2017 Net Migration (Census): 5,479
Annual Income Need to Buy (3% Down and 28% Front-End DTI): $121,774
Annualized Avg Weekly Wages: $61,438
Historic Pct of Wages to Buy: $0.5
Pct of Annualized Wages to Buy: 55.5%
First Quarter 2018 Affordability Index (Under 100 is Less Affordable Than Historic Average): 90
First Quarter 2018 Median Sales Price: $453,000
Year-Over-Year Annualized Wage Growth: 1%
Year-Over-Year Median Home Price Growth: 7%
Year-Over-Year Pct Change In Affordability Index: -3%


click to enlarge Arapahoe County. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Arapahoe County.
YouTube file photo
County: Arapahoe
State: Colorado
Median Home Price Affordable for Avg Wage Earner?: NO

Annual Income Need to Buy (3% Down and 28% Front-End DTI): $86,990
Annualized Avg Weekly Wages: $63,804
Historic Pct of Wages to Buy: $0.3
Pct of Annualized Wages to Buy: 38.2%
First Quarter 2018 Affordability Index (Under 100 is Less Affordable Than Historic Average): 82
First Quarter 2018 Median Sales Price: $330,000
Year-Over-Year Annualized Wage Growth: 2%
Year-Over-Year Median Home Price Growth: 7%
Year-Over-Year Pct Change In Affordability Index: -1%


click to enlarge Denver County. - YOUTUBE FILE PHOTO
Denver County.
YouTube file photo
County: Denver
State: Colorado
Median Home Price Affordable for Avg Wage Earner?: NO

Annual Income Need to Buy (3% Down and 28% Front-End DTI): $104,176
Annualized Avg Weekly Wages: $67,067
Historic Pct of Wages to Buy: $0.3
Pct of Annualized Wages to Buy: 43.5%
First Quarter 2018 Affordability Index (Under 100 is Less Affordable Than Historic Average): 79
First Quarter 2018 Median Sales Price: $400,000
Year-Over-Year Annualized Wage Growth: 3%
Year-Over-Year Median Home Price Growth: 11%
Year-Over-Year Pct Change In Affordability Index: -4%

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts