The Philadelphia metropolitan region ranks among the U.S. cities where first-time buyers are likely to struggle more than the national average to find a home, based on house affordability and the cost of living, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Philadelphia metro area, defined as a swath that spans Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington, showed a median house price of nearly $249,000. The region ranked 26th out of 53 in the most unfavorable areas for first-time home buyers, immediately surpassed by greater Virginia Beach and Nashville, according to Construction Coverage, a real estate assessment company that pulled information for the report from the Zillow Home Price Index and U.S. Census data from 2018.
High student loan debt, the lingering effects of the 2008 recession, and the growing trend among millennials to delay major life choices such as marriage could all contribute to sluggish rates of first-time home ownership, the report found.
More difficult circumstances, the report’s analysts said, are likely to be amplified in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which already has dealt a blow to industries ranging from hospitality to real estate.
Home ownership had not even entirely rebounded from the recession, the report found. About 65% of the U.S. population were home owners in 2019, about a 1% increase from 2016, but 4.3% below the rate in 2005.
Recent data showed Philadelphia-area millennials who were employed full time and first-time home buyers earned a median salary of $45,000 but were estimated to have a monthly mortgage of $977. Millennials were the biggest demographic among first-time home buyers, making up roughly 38%.
The report used a scale of 100 to denote how friendly a region would be to a first-time home buyer. The Philadelphia metro clocked in at 69.19.
The greater Riverside area, just east of Los Angeles, was determined to be the least favorable to first-time buyers, according to Construction Coverage. It was followed by the Los Angeles region, and then greater New York, which encompassed Newark, N.J., and Jersey City.
The national median home price was about $245,000, according to the report, and full-time millennial employees earned a median salary of $40,000.
For those on the tightest budgets, the most affordable areas in the U.S. were Birmingham, Ala., and Pittsburgh, with median home prices just under $160,000.