In what may come as a surprise to many people, teachers – professionals who many consider to be underpaid – are able to afford a greater variety of houses up for sale in highly populated Los Angeles than Salt Lake City, according to a recent survey conducted by property listings website Zillow.
In Bakersfield, California – a suburb of L.A., – the median price for a single-family house is $166,300, according to Zillow's estimates. The average teacher's salary is $61,000, enabling them to buy a $310,000 home, assuming buyers put the recommended one-quarter of their earnings toward the cost of a mortgage. That would enable them to afford more than 85 percent of the properties available in the L.A. suburb.
Just 25 percent of SLC houses in teachers' budgets
Meanwhile, in SLC, the median price for a single-family residence is $234,100 and the average annual salary for teachers is $38,000, according to Zillow. On that income, a teacher could afford to buy a $195,000 house when putting the same share of their income toward the cost of mortgage. That would make only 25 percent of the houses on the SLC market within their budget.
Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, pointed out that it isn't all about the list price when it comes to buying a house, as there are other factors at play.
"Incomes vary a lot across the country – even within the same occupation," Gudell explained. "There's also the question of how much of your paycheck you're willing to put toward a house payment, and finally, whether you can find a home in your price range."
She added that buyers today are increasingly going about the proper steps to responsible home ownership, but once they think they've arrived, there aren't as many houses in their budget as they expected.
4 of 5 most affordable markets in California
Of the five markets where teachers have the largest percentage of for-sale houses that they can afford, four are in the Golden State, including Modesto, Stockton and Riverside. Meanwhile, two of the bottom five are in Utah, in Salt Lake City and Provo. Home to Brigham Young University, just 24 percent of listings are within the average teacher's budget.
Just as mortgage rates can vary, so too do teacher salaries, affected by both tenure and the location in which teachers practice. In Alabama, the average starting salary for teachers is $36,200, based on data from the National Education Association. In New Jersey, the starting pay is over $48,600, the highest in the country.
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