How Much Income Do You Need for a Home? It's Easiest in Cleveland

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the spring home-buying season in full swing, prospective buyers are sure to ask: "How much to I have to earn to buy a decent home?"

There are two ways to look at that: simple and hard. The simple answer is mainly math, covering such things as mortgage interest rate, size of down payment and cost of the home. The harder look adds issues including how secure your job is, how many kids you will put through college and how you are doing on retirement saving.

"Overall, buying a home remained very favorable during the first quarter of 2014," says HSH.com, the mortgage and housing data firm. "In some markets, home prices have declined in recent months, though that saving is offset by a slight rise in mortgage rates."

"It was nearly a 50-50 split between the areas which saw the required salary increase or decrease from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014."

HSH figured the median income needed to buy the median-priced home in 27 major cities, assuming a 20% down payment and no more than 28% of income to be spent on the monthly payment. Property taxes and homeowner's insurance costs were part of the mix. These factors conform to those used by most lenders, though some will accept lower down payments.

The cheapest place to buy? Cleveland, where the median home costs only $102,100, down nearly 9.5% from the fourth quarter of 2013. To buy that home would take an annual income of $29,789.

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