There are many ways to look at housing affordability in Cherokee or Cobb County—but if you’re a typical prospective homebuyer, the one that makes a real difference isn’t found in the real estate statistics.  The truly decisive “affordability” factor is the dollar amount of the mortgage payment that goes with the price of the home. It’s either affordable or it isn’t.

It’s a well-publicized fact that U.S. home prices have risen dramatically since the end of the Great Recession. That would seem to mean that average housing affordability over that period has been in decline—especially early in the recovery when incomes were rising slowly (if at all). Since then, many commentaries have pointed out a “housing affordability gap” that (along with a shortage of homes for sale) has been used to explain lackluster market activity.

For most of Cherokee or Cobb County’s prospective homebuyers, all that is background noise. It might keep some from even starting to look for a new house, but when circumstances dictate that it’s time to find a new home, true “housing affordability” comes down to those monthly cost figures. And the actual numbers are headed in the right direction.

The final 2019 statistics won’t be in until long after the Waterford crystal ball has dropped in Times Square, but as of this summer, the “typical mortgage payment” has actually shrunk year over year. That was Corelogic’s finding, published this summer. By September, TheMortgageReports contributor Aly Yale could write, “home prices might be up, but American mortgage payments are actually falling.” She found that the average monthly payment had dipped a full 6% from a year earlier. In fact, compared with the all-time high reached in June 2016, she calculates that “current typical payments” have plummeted by 32%!

Actual Cherokee or Cobb County housing affordability is a family-by-family budget calculation. Still, given the analysts’ findings, those who have been discouraged by talk of a housing affordability gap might want to pull out a calculator to see what today’s market offers. We’ll be waiting by the phone with more information if the numbers look good!