Homebuyers: Most Affordable Small City in the US Is in Michigan
Looking for affordable housing? If you're in Michigan, you've come to the right place.
The personal finance website WalletHub has released its list of "2023’s Most Affordable Cities for Home Buyers", and seven Michigan cities are among the nation's top 50 - more than any other state.
What Constitutes Affordable Housing?
Ten metrics were weighed for 300 of the largest cities in the United States. Study authors looked at a variety of factors:
- Housing Affordability (calculated by dividing a city's median house price by its median annual household income)
- Maintenance Affordability (measures typical maintenance costs against expected income)
- Average Cost of Homeowner’s Insurance
- Cost of Living
- Cost per Square Foot (calculated by dividing the median list price in the city by its average home square footage)
- Real-Estate Tax Rate
- Rent-to-Price-Ratio (the difference between the cost to rent vs. the cost to buy the same home)
- Median Home-Price Appreciation
- Quarterly Active Listings per Capita
- Vacancy Rate (the percentage of vacant housing units as compared to the total number of housing units in a city)
The study then broke down the results among the nation's large cities (those with 300,000 or more people), midsize cities (those with populations between 100,000 and 300,000), and small cities (those with fewer than 100,000 people).
Michigan's Most Affordable Cities for Homebuyers
According to WalletHub, Lansing is the 7th most affordable city in Michigan for homebuyers. It ranks 20th among the nation's small cities, and 49th overall.
Dearborn came in as the 6th most affordable city for homebuyers in Michigan; 13th among all the small cities in the nation and 27th overall.
Livonia rated as the 5th most affordable city for Michigan homebuyers. It ranks 10th among all of America's small cities, and 24th overall.
The 4th most affordable city for homebuyers in Michigan is Grand Rapids. It's 5th among the entire nation's midsize cities, and the 13th most affordable city overall.
The Detroit suburb of Warren is the 3rd most affordable city in Michigan for homebuyers. That puts it at 2nd in the nation among America's small cities, and 6th overall.
Among the nation's large cities, Detroit ranks as the most affordable one for homebuyers. It's 2nd though among all Michigan cities, and 4th in the nation overall.
The Most Affordable Small City in the Nation for Homebuyers
Flint takes honors as the not only the most affordable city in Michigan for homebuyers, it's the most affordable small city in the entire United States. The only city more affordable for American homebuyers overall is Montgomery, Alabama.
What Makes Flint Such an Affordable City for Homebuyers?
According to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez, the vacancy rate in Flint makes it particularly affordable.
"The home cost is low, there's also some vacancy - so it's not like supply and demand is affecting some of these Michigan cities like it is in say, Southern California," she says.
One drawback in Flint is its maintenance affordability ranking - dead last among all American cities.
"In terms of maintenance affordability, we're looking at maintenance costs as a share of income," states Gonzalez. "For Flint, and for Detroit (which ranked 4th worst in maintenance affordability), it's very hard for people who are homeowners to maintain their homes because their incomes are quite low. The maintenance costs are not necessarily high - they're on par with what they are in a lot of midwestern cities - but because income is so low, it's hard to upkeep."
Gonzalez points out that Michigan isn't the only state where these dynamics are at play; it's an issue the study shows repeating itself in other midwestern states as well, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
"It's not necessarily to say that it's just Michigan," Gonzalez says. "The Midwest in general is more affordable - some parts more than others."
A complete look at WalletHub's report can be found here.