August 5, 2016
NYU’s Furman Center and Citi have released their joint Report on Homeownership & Opportunity in New York City. It opens,
In New York City, the notoriously high costs of rental housing are well documented. But becoming a homeowner in the New York City real estate market is also a considerable challenge for low- to middle-income households. Households earning less than $114,000 face a severely constrained supply of homeownership opportunities in New York City.
This report seeks to shed light on the extreme variation in homeownership rates among New Yorkers and quantify the homeownership options that exist at different income levels. We do this by analyzing 2014 home sales prices and examining the potential purchasing power of households at various income levels in New York City, as well as in the nearby counties of Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester.
We use five income categories for this analysis—Low-Income, Moderate-Income, Middle-Income, NYC-Middle-Income, and High-Income. These income bands are based on percentages of Area Median Family Income (AMFI) for the New York City metropolitan statistical area established by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and are based on data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey. This report includes an additional middle-income band (NYC-Middle-Income), given that affordable housing programs in New York City serve households up to 165 percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) area median income (AMI). (3)
You’re all wondering, of course, what NYC-Middle Income is, so the report provides the following explanation of the income categories:
“Low-Income” households have an annual income of $34,000 or less, or 50 percent of AMFI;
“Moderate-Income” households have an annual income between $34,001-$55,000, or 50 percent to less than 80 percent of AMFI;
“Middle-Income” households have an annual income of $55,001-$83,000, or 80 percent to less than 120 percent of AMFI;
“NYC-Middle-Income” households have an annual income of $83,001-$114,000, or 120 percent to less than 165 of AMFI; and
“High-Income” households have an annual income above $114,001, or 165 percent of AMFI or greater. (3, emphasis added)
The report finds that
the purchasing power of most New York City households is limited, largely due to growing housing prices and stagnating incomes since 1990. In addition, while New York City had a relatively low share of homeowners compared to the U.S. in 2014, it was disproportionately low for Low-Income and Moderate-Income households relative to their U.S. counterparts.
The vast majority of home sales in New York City in 2014 were at prices unaffordable to Low-Income and Moderate-Income households, which comprised 51 percent of New York City households. Of the nine percent of sales in the city affordable to these households, three percent were affordable to Low-Income households and an additional six percent were affordable to Moderate-Income households. Home sales with prices that were affordable to Low-Income and Moderate-Income households in 2014 were, for the most part, concentrated outside of Manhattan.
Prospects for homeownership were not much better for Middle-Income households. In 2014, Middle-Income households, which comprise 15 percent of New York City households, could afford an additional 13 percent of sales (based on a total purchase price of up to $364,000), leaving 78 percent of sales out of reach for households with incomes of less than $83,000 annually. Less than half of sales in 2014 (42%) were affordable to 77 percent of New York households, including those characterized as NYC-Middle-Income.
Moving outside of New York City does not necessarily improve a New York City household’s potential to buy a home. In Westchester County, only two percent of sales were affordable to New York City Low-Income and Moderate-Income homebuyers combined in 2014. In Nassau County, only 24 percent of sales were affordable to New York City Low-Income, Moderate-Income, and Middle-Income homebuyers in 2014. In Suffolk County, 42 percent of sales were affordable to New York City Low-Income, Moderate-Income, and Middle-Income households. (4)
New Yorkers, and a lot of non-New Yorkers, are going to eat up the graphs in this report (what IS the median sales price in Brooklyn?!?), so it is worth a read for the real estate obsessed (yes, you). But it also has policy implications about the housing stock of the City and the surrounding region. The report itself does not make any policy recommendations, but it offers a stark reminder of how important rental housing policy is to any effort to maintain socio-economic diversity in the City.