38% of Renters Can Afford to Buy a Home

December 3, 2020

The number of renters who can afford a home has increased over the past two years, but achieving homeownership is still difficult for renters in saving up for a down payment, according to a recent post at the National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook blog. Thirty-eight percent of renters can afford to buy a home, but they may need 13 years of savings to make a 10% down payment, according to NAR’s analysis.

“As mortgage rates have fallen and incomes have increased, the fraction of renters who can afford to purchase a home has increased from 33% in 2018 to 38% as of 2020 Q3,” Scholastica “Gay” Cororaton, a research economist for NAR, writes at the blog.

Some of the metro areas seeing the highest percentage of renter households now able to afford to buy a home in the third quarter include Topeka, Kan. (64.5% of renter households can afford to buy a home); Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa (63.3%); Elmira, N.Y. (62.4%); Fond du Lac, Wis. (60.9%); Decatur, Ill. (60.7%); Peoria, Ill. (60.7%); and Wichita Falls, Texas (59.5%).


While the home purchase has become more affordable, monthly mortgage payments and down payments have not. As of the third quarter, a renter with a family income of $49,242 or below would not be able to afford a typical single-family home valued at $313,500, according to NAR’s analysis. The mortgage payment would account for 29% of income, which is above the 25% threshold that most financial experts consider affordable.

Also, a renter will need about $30,000 for a 10% down payment, requiring an estimated 13 years of saving.

Still, the FHA and other lending programs offer 3% loans to first-time buyers. Several loan programs offer down payment assistance that real estate pros can share with their customers who are looking to buy but are unable to save for the down payment. Read more: Go in for the Assist

Renter Affordability Statistics as of 2020 Q3,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook (Dec. 1, 2020)