How much money do you need to buy a $400,000 house with a 7% mortgage rate?

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Home buyers in the U.S. are facing an increasingly challenging real-estate market once again, as the 30-year mortgage rate heads back over 7%.

But just how challenging is it to buy a home? MarketWatch worked with Redfin to estimate how much a potential home buyer would need to earn to buy a typical home.

If a home buyer is paying for a median-priced $397,000 home with a 30-year mortgage at 7.09% after putting 20% down, they would have to pay roughly $2,711 per month, which includes not just their principal and interest, but taxes and insurance as well, according to Redfin.

To afford that on a monthly basis, a prospective buyer would need to make an annual salary of $108,440. Redfin considers a monthly payment as “affordable” if the buyer is spending no more than 30% of their income on housing.

Housing affordability is at the lowest level since 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, which is when they began tracking the data. 

Only about 38% of new and existing homes sold between October 2023 and the end of December 2023 were affordable to the typical family in America earning a median income of $96,300, the NAHB said.

The NAHB’s median income figure is based on income estimates for metropolitan areas published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Census Bureau, which measures income across the entire U.S., said that real median income in 2022 was $74,850.

With spring home-buying season fast approaching, Chen Zhao, economics research lead at Redfin, said that the high mortgage rates could play to some buyers’ advantage.

“So far the market has been slower than expected, with worse weather than usual in January, and rates ticking up in January and February,” Zhao said. “New listings are up though, indicating that buyers may have more to choose from this year and that may drive more transactions.”

Tips for house hunters as mortgage rates hover at 7%

For the would-be home buyers who are in the throes of house hunting, hang in there. The market is expensive. It’s tough, so be prepared.

For starters, don’t underestimate the competition. 16% of homes are being sold over list price, and a third of buyers are paying all cash, which some homeowners prefer because it gives them access to the money quickly. So make sure you and your real-estate agent know what the best offer is before you go to the seller. Don’t low-ball in a hot market.

Ask for sales incentives. Mortgage rate buy-downs and price cuts may be back on the table for newly built homes in particular. Buydowns allow the buyer to spend a little more money up front and lower their mortgage rate either permanently or temporarily. Ask for these incentives, and make sure to not leave any deals on the table. 

But don’t buy for the sake of buying, especially when the rental market is easing up as rents fall. The rental market is a good place to park yourself until you have saved enough money to buy a home. You do not want to be house poor, as they say. 

At the same time, even though mortgage rates are poised to fall in the back half of this year, “don’t necessarily wait for them to fall before you buy,” Zhao said. “When that happens, prices may go up. If you buy now and they go down, then you can refinance.”

How have home prices and mortgage rates affected your life? We want to hear from readers . If you’d like to share your experience, write to readerstories@marketwatch.com. Please include your name and the best way to reach you. A reporter may be in touch.



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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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