This Was the Median Home Sale Price in September. Could You Swing It?

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KEY POINTS

  • It's been a challenging housing market for buyers to navigate.
  • The median home price last month was up 8.4% on an annual basis.


Home prices are still surprisingly high.

The past year has been a difficult one for home buyers on a national level. Not only has housing inventory been sorely lacking, but mortgage rates have risen at a rapid clip since January. And with the average 30-year mortgage rate now hovering around 7%, it's easy to see why so many buyers are growing increasingly discouraged.

But low inventory and higher borrowing rates aren't the only challenges buyers are facing these days. There's also the issue of higher than average home prices.

In September, the median existing home sale price was $384,800, as per the National Association of Realtors. That represents an 8.4% increase from the same month one year ago. And it may also be a number you just can't get on board with.

Can you swing a $384,800 home?

Let's get one thing out of the way. While the median home sale price last month may have been $384,800, that doesn't mean that's what homes are selling for in your specific market. Maybe homes are priced much higher, or much lower.

But either way, it's a good idea to know how much house you can afford, regardless of the prices you're looking at. And a good bet is to follow the 30% rule.

That rule says your monthly housing costs should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay. And by "housing costs," we don't just mean your mortgage payment. Rather, that 30% should encompass added expenses like property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees (if they apply to you), and any other predictable monthly expense you've taken on in the course of buying a home.

Should you hold off on buying a home?

Today's housing market just isn't friendly to buyers. Home prices are up, mortgage rates are up, and there's not a lot of selection. All of that means that if you were to put your home-buying plans on hold and wait for market conditions to improve, you might benefit down the line.

That said, the decision to delay your home-buying plans should hinge partially on your current housing situation. If you're in a comfortable rental you can stay in, then you may want to wait to buy. But if your lease is coming due for renewal and you're convinced your landlord is about to jack up your rent to an unreasonable degree, then you may want to keep plugging away at your home search.

Although home prices are up across the board right now, you might manage to find a good deal if you keep looking. And if your credit is strong, you might manage to score a more reasonable rate on a mortgage.

Remember, too, that while mortgage rates are high right now, they could come down over time -- and you can always refinance once that happens. So rather than give up on homeownership for the time being, you can instead keep searching in the hopes of finding a place that's affordable for you.

Our Research Expert

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