Cincinnati one of the country’s most affordable cities

To compare, the national median home price — where half of newly built and existing homes sold for more, and half less — was $205,000 at the end of 2013, according to an index of housing affordability in major U.S. cities compiled by the National Association of Home Builders.

Not only does housing tend to be cheaper here in the Tristate, more local residents can afford to make monthly mortgage payments depending on their income levels than people living in other parts of the country, according to the home builders association.

Based on median family income of $68,700 a year in the Cincinnati-area, 83.8 percent of all homes sold in the 15-county region including Butler and Warren counties from October through December 2013 were considered affordable, said Rose Quint, assistant vice president for survey research for the builders trade group.

Across the country as a whole, nearly 65 percent of homes sold in the same time period were considered affordable, with payments not exceeding 28 percent of median income, according to the Housing Opportunity Index co-produced by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.

“If a smaller percentage of your take-home pay is taken out for housing, you have more to spend on other interests in your life,” said Gwen Ritchie, real estate agent for Huff Realty and past president of Hamilton-Fairfield-Oxford Board of Realtors.

“Because we’re more affordable for housing, it makes for a higher quality of life,” Ritchie said.

These were among the factors Forbes Magazine considered when on Tuesday it named Cincinnati the third most affordable city nationwide among America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Ohio overall ranked high on Forbes’ list; Dayton was the fourth most affordable, with Akron sixth, Toledo 11th, and Columbus 20th.

Buffalo, N.Y., was considered by Forbes to be the nation’s most affordable city to live. New York, N.Y., and Honolulu tied for the most overpriced.

The magazine said it analyzed housing costs, as well as costs of food, utilities, gas, transportation and medical expenses, among other things.

Home costs had a heavy weighting in the analysis because a home is typically the single largest purchase most people make.

The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Opportunity Index ranked Cincinnati the 46th most affordable metropolitan for just housing prices relative to income at the end of 2013. The builders’ index evaluated 224 cities.

“In general, it’s a great benefit for the residents of any town for homes to be affordable because that means the relationship between incomes and house prices is a healthy relationship,” said Quint, with survey research for the builders group.

More unaffordable cities “don’t attract the young buyers that don’t have a big down payment,” Quint said.

An affordable housing cost is a selling point to draw people and companies to Cincinnati from elsewhere.

“We can promote affordability to individuals,” Ritchie, the real estate agent, said. “We could also promote it to employers out there who are looking for new locations.”

The low costs of doing business here are also a plus, local business leaders say. In the manufacturing industry, a key segment of the Cincinnati region’s economy, “on-time delivery has become a given, which puts an emphasis on cost,” said Tom Kachovec, chief operating officer of Long-Stanton Manufacturing Co. Inc. of West Chester Twp.

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