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Monthly House Payments Soar in NJ [AUDIO]

A majority of new homeowners in New Jersey and nationwide are paying more for their monthly house payment than a year ago.

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Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

According to a new housing affordability report by RealtyTrac, the estimated monthly house payment for a median-priced, three-bedroom home purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013 increased an average of 21 percent from a year ago, in 325 counties across the United States.

In New Jersey, most new homeowners are paying even more.

Across the country, the average median price of a home is up 10 percent, combined with a 33 percent increase in the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

Home prices are going up, and at the same time we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in interest rates,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “That also trickles down to mean that the average income has to be that much higher to afford a home.”

Those numbers are even higher in parts of New Jersey. In Middlesex County, the average monthly house payment was up 43 percent, the highest of all in New Jersey, according to RealtyTrac. Hudson County saw a spike of 24 percent, while Burlington County was below the national average at 11 percent.

“It really ties back to home prices,” Blomquist said. “In Middlesex County, the average price of a home was up 30 percent. The increasing prices and the rising interest rates have brought the minimum qualifying income to purchase a three-bedroom home in Middlesex County to $85,000. When we look at data from the Census Bureau, the median income in Middlesex County is at $77,000. So, a person making the median income in Middlesex County isn’t making enough to purchase a median-priced home, and that’s always a red flag that affordability is starting to become a bit of an issue.”

Other key findings in the report:

  • Based on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate of 4.46 percent and a 20 percent down payment, the average monthly house payment across all counties for three-bedroom homes purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $865, up from $714 for homes purchased in the fourth quarter of 2012 — based on a 3.35 percent interest rate a year ago.
  • Counties with some of the biggest increases in estimated monthly house payments included Contra Costa and Sacramento counties in California (both up more than 50 percent), Wayne and Oakland counties in Michigan (both up more than 45 percent), and Clark County, Nev. (up 43 percent).
  • Across all 325 counties, the average minimum household income needed to qualify for a median-priced home in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $41,544, up from an average minimum income of $34,262 in the fourth quarter of 2012. The minimum qualifying income was based on no more than 25 percent of household income going to the monthly house payment.
  • Counties with the highest minimum qualifying incomes were San Francisco County, Calif. ($228,569), Marin County, Calif. ($177,922), San Mateo County, Calif. ($170,284), Arlington County, Va. ($158,474), Santa Clara County, Calif. ($149,389), and Hudson County, N.J. ($142,684).
  • The average minimum qualifying income to rent a three-bedroom home at fair market rents for 2014 was $43,892 across all 325 counties, up from $43,527 at fair market rents for 2013. The minimum qualifying income for rents was calculated by multiplying the annual cost of rent by three.
  • Counties with the biggest jumps in fair market rents on three-bedroom homes included Sumter County, S.C. (up 23 percent), Kenosha County, Wis. (up 21 percent), Alameda County, Calif. (up 16 percent), Contra Costa County, Calif. (up 16 percent), and Missoula County, Mont. (up 15 percent).

To view the report in its entirety, click here.

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