Guide to Mortgage Stress

Information verified correct on April 26th, 2017

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What is Mortgage Stress?

Mortgage stress is generally when a homeowner’s mortgage repayment is more than 28% of their gross income. For example if you make the average income of these 100 cities of $50,723 per year, the amount of income paid towards monthly mortgage repayments if it was 28 percent of your income would be $1,183.50 on a $265,000 mortgage. Mortgage stress is present throughout the nation, but there are some major U.S. cities that have higher mortgage stress rates than others. Interest costs and the prices of homes are inflating, and salaries and wages are struggling to keep up. Forming good financial habits can help you keep a cool head when living in some of the more expensive cities throughout the United States.

Mortgage Stress Levels By Major City

When looking at major city mortgage stress levels, we took the top 100 most populated cities and their median home value, median household income and annual mortgage repayments. We then used those numbers to find the proportion of mortgage repayments to income, to work out each city’s mortgage stress level (check out the results in the chart at the bottom of the page).

Looking at this number, we have determined that 20 of the largest 100 American cities are in mortgage stress.

When it comes to mortgage levels, California clocks in at having the most cities with mortgage stress. In fact, half of the top 20 cities dealing with mortgage stress are in California.

San Francisco is at the top of the list with the average mortgage repayments taking up around 61.47% of the city’s median household income. Los Angeles trails after at 50.07%, Oakland in third (49.73%), New York in fourth (47.72%), and Honolulu in fifth (44.27%).

When looking at the list of the top 100 major cities, the average mortgage repayment in proportion to income is 20.9%

For these major U.S. cities, Detroit has the lowest proportion of income to repayments, registering at a mere average of 6.12%. The second and third low-stress cities are Ohio cities Toledo and Cleveland (7.26% and 8.50% respectively), with Memphis and Fort Wayne not far behind (8.63% and 9.31% respectively).

Especially in cities with higher mortgage stress rates, homeowners should try to be as diligent as possible in saving money. If you are struggling with mortgage stress, you can try cutting out expenses where you can, and avoid making unnecessary purchases. Set a budget, and stick to it. Most importantly, opt for a house that you can afford. You want your payments to be at most 28% of your gross income. If you get a house that is within your means, you will have an easier time repaying the mortgage within a reasonable time frame. Where you live, and what city you reside in can make a big financial difference.

Mortgage stress levels in top 100 American cities

RankCityMedian home value Median household incomeAnnual mortgage repayments*Repayments as proportion of income
1San Francisco, CA$1,127,400$78,378$48,17861.47%
2Los Angeles, CA$582,100$49,682$24,87550.07%
3Oakland, CA$616,300$52,962$26,33749.73%
4New York, NY$588,900$52,737$25,16647.72%
5Honolulu, HI$627,200$60,548$26,80344.27%
6San Jose, CA$830,000$83,787$35,46942.33%
7Long Beach, CA$521,500$52,944$22,28642.09%
8Miami, FL$291,800$30,858$12,47040.41%
9Boston, MA$493,700$54,485$21,09838.72%
10Anaheim, CA$536,300$59,707$22,91838.38%
11Santa Ana, CA$465,700$52,519$19,90137.89%
12Houston, TX$403,500$45,728$17,24337.71%
13Fremont, CA$905,800$103,591$38,70937.37%
14Seattle, WA$585,400$67,365$25,01737.14%
15San Diego, CA$539,700$65,753$23,06435.08%
16Irvine, CA$769,000$99,334$32,86233.08%
17Washington, DC$516,300$69,235$22,06431.87%
18Portland, OR$378,600$53,230$16,17930.39%
19Chula Vista, CA$469,700$66,110$20,07230.36%
20Denver, CO$346,500$51,800$14,80728.59%
21Reno, NV$292,900$46,489$12,51726.92%
22Garland, TX$323,290$51,997$13,81526.57%
23Newark, NJ$210,600$34,012$9,00026.46%
24San Bernardino, CA$231,000$38,774$9,87225.46%
25Riverside, CA$331,900$56,089$14,18325.29%
26Scottsdale, AZ$414,900$72,455$17,73024.47%
27Jersey City, NJ$333,000$58,907$14,23024.16%
28Sacramento, CA$274,700$50,013$11,73923.47%
29Austin, TX$303,100$55,216$12,95323.46%
30Hialeah, FL$197,100$37,262$8,42322.60%
31San Antonio, TX$244,712$46,317$10,45822.58%
32Stockton, CA$232,900$45,347$9,95321.95%
33Aurora, CO$260,500$52,275$11,13221.30%
34Fresno, CA$194,500$41,455$8,31220.05%
35Fort Worth, TX$245,140$52,492$10,47619.96%
36New Orleans, LA$168,200$36,964$7,18819.45%
37Buffalo, NY$140,315$31,668$5,99618.93%
38Baton Rouge, LA$169,792$38,790$7,25618.71%
39Chicago, IL$208,300$47,831$8,90218.61%
40Nashville, TN$203,000$46,758$8,67518.55%
41Minneapolis, MN$217,500$50,767$9,29518.31%
42Colorado Springs, CO$231,400$54,228$9,88918.24%
43Mesa, AZ$205,200$48,259$8,76918.17%
44Glendale, AZ$194,800$46,855$8,32517.77%
45Atlanta, GA$191,300$46,439$8,17517.60%
46Phoenix, AZ$192,900$46,881$8,24317.58%
47Tucson, AZ$151,900$37,149$6,49117.47%
48Boise City, ID$198,400$49,209$8,47817.23%
49Henderson, NV$256,300$63,830$10,95317.16%
50Madison, WI$216,500$53,933$9,25217.15%
51Norfolk, VA$176,800$44,150$7,55517.11%
52Las Vegas, NV$198,300$50,903$8,47416.65%
53Corpus Christi, TX$189,625$49,675$8,10316.31%
54Raleigh, NC$206,800$54,532$8,83716.21%
55Louisville, KY$169,150$44,806$7,22816.13%
56Anchorage, AK$294,900$78,121$12,60216.13%
57Richmond, VA$155,400$41,331$6,64116.07%
58Bakersfield, CA$213,100$56,842$9,10716.02%
59Virginia Beach, VA$250,100$67,001$10,68815.95%
60Orlando, FL$155,000$41,901$6,62415.81%
61Tampa, FL$160,600$43,740$6,86315.69%
62Albuquerque, NM$170,900$47,413$7,30315.40%
63St. Paul, MN$173,100$48,258$7,39715.33%
64Durham, NC$174,800$49,585$7,47015.06%
65Plano, TX$297,600$84,597$12,71815.03%
66St. Petersburg, FL$158,900$45,483$6,79014.93%
67Indianapolis, IN$146,458$42,076$6,25914.87%
68Gilbert, AZ$282,700$81,485$12,08114.83%
69North Las Vegas, NV$183,000$53,105$7,82014.73%
70Chesapeake, VA$241,600$70,176$10,32514.71%
71Chandler, AZ$265,700$77,328$11,35414.68%
72Philadelphia, PA$126,300$37,460$5,39714.41%
73Dallas, TX$145,600$43,359$6,22214.35%
74Cincinnati, OH$111,700$34,002$4,77314.04%
75Lexington, KY$158,000$48,667$6,75213.87%
76Charlotte, NC$170,100$53,274$7,26913.64%
77Irving, TX$162,200$50,942$6,93113.61%
78St. Louis, MO$108,000$34,800$4,61513.26%
79Arlington, TX$163,300$53,055$6,97813.15%
80Lincoln, NE$151,900$49,794$6,49113.04%
81Laredo, TX$119,000$39,408$5,08512.90%
82Jacksonville, FL$139,000$46,768$5,94012.70%
83Greensboro, NC$122,800$41,518$5,24812.64%
84Omaha, NE$141,400$48,751$6,04312.39%
85Kansas City, KS$110,400$38,073$4,71812.39%
86Winston-Salem, NC$117,000$40,480$5,00012.35%
87Pittsburgh, PA$111,900$40,009$4,78211.95%
88Oklahoma City, OK$129,700$46,996$5,54311.79%
89Baltimore, MD$115,000$41,819$4,91411.75%
90Milwaukee, WI$96,100$35,489$4,10711.57%
91El Paso, TX$111,300$42,037$4,75611.31%
92Columbus, OH$117,900$44,774$5,03811.25%
93Lubbock, TX$115,900$44,139$4,95311.22%
94Tulsa, OK$107,300$41,957$4,58510.93%
95Wichita, KS$112,600$45,907$4,81210.48%
96Fort Wayne, IN$95,800$43,994$4,0949.31%
97Memphis, TN$74,900$37,099$3,2018.63%
98Cleveland, OH$52,100$26,179$2,2268.50%
99Toledo, OH$56,900$33,485$2,4327.26%
100Detroit, MI$37,400$26,095$1,5986.12%
source: finder.com, zillow.com, census.gov, freddiemac.com, top 100 cities based on population *based on a 30-year mortgage repaid at average 30-year fixed rate of 3.43%
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