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Mecklenburg wage growth outpaces home price increases

Home price growth is outpacing wage increases in the majority of U.S. markets, but Mecklenburg County is not one of them.

RealtyTrac reports that average weekly wages here grew at an annual pace of 4 percent to $1,119 in the third quarter, which was the latest county-wide data available.

Meanwhile, the median home price grew less than half a percent to $178,500 in the first quarter from a year earlier, making it more affordable to buy a home here than in many parts of the country.

Other markets where wage growth this year has been faster than home-price appreciation include Cleveland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

RealtyTrac said Mecklenburg County homeowners paid 23.6 percent of the average wage on house payments in the latest quarter.

That was down from the historic average over the last 10 years, which showed county residents spending 25.5 percent of their income on house payments.

Both figures are quite a bit lower than the national average. RealtyTrac said U.S. workers spent an average of 30.2 percent of monthly income on mortgage payments, including property taxes and insurance, in the first quarter. That share was also lower than the historical norm of 34.6 percent.

RealtyTrac said home prices are growing faster than wages in 61 percent of the 456 counties it analyzed. Mecklenburg was one of the 180 counties where that didn’t hold true.

Meanwhile, the number of counties that are growing less affordable according to their own historic norms is increasing.

Nine percent of counties surveyed were less affordable in the first quarter than their historic norm. That was up from 2 percent a year ago.

“While the vast majority of housing markets are still affordable by their own historic standards, home prices are floating out of reach for average wage earners in a growing number of U.S. housing markets,” said RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist in a written statement.

Blomquist said low interest rates have helped soften the blow of home-price appreciation, but that could change if interest rates rise and home prices continue to appreciate faster than wages.

Some of the least affordable markets compared with their historic averages were Denver; New York City; San Francisco; St. Louis; Austin, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska.

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