Home > Mortgages > The Average Wage Earner Can’t Afford a Home in Most Neighborhoods With Good Schools

Comments 0 Comments

Many Americans struggle to find an affordable place to live, and that’s especially true if you have kids and want to send them to a good school. In the majority of ZIP codes with at least one good school, average wage earners can’t afford a median-priced home, according to a new report.

The analysis comes from real estate data company RealtyTrac, which looked at elementary school test scores, median home prices and median incomes in more than 7,200 ZIP codes. Only 1,823 ZIP codes had at least one good school, but in 1,192 (65%) of them, families making the average wage in that area would have to spend more than a third of their income to afford the median mortgage payment in the same area. A good school was defined as a school with test scores that are 33% higher than the state average. 

“We believed one-third better was a good sign that the school is one of the top-tier schools in the state. We had used that same cutoff in our schools report last year as well,” said Ginny Walker, public relations supervisor at RealtyTrac.

Schools have a huge impact on home value. In ZIP codes with at least one good school, median home prices were nearly double the median home prices in places without good schools: $411,573 compared to $210,662.

The test scores came from 2014 Education Department data, average wages are from first-quarter 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data and median home prices came from public records and RealtyTrac calculations.

School districts and ZIP codes don’t always share boundaries, and families aren’t necessarily limited to sending their kids to school within their ZIP codes. Depending on where you live and your school options, it may be less expensive to send children to private schools than to move to a place with higher home prices and good schools.

Even so, this data isn’t encouraging. Good schools make a market more competitive (and more expensive), potentially excluding average wage earners from owning homes in good school districts. Education options are among the many things to consider when buying a home, but affordability is the ultimate determining factor. One way to improve your chances of getting an affordable home loan is to have a good credit score, which can lower your interest rate and allow you to afford a home with a higher price tag. You can get your free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team