Buyers must shell out more of their income to pay for a home in the Myrtle Beach area

08/07/2014 6:25 AM

08/07/2014 6:27 AM

The monthly payment for a median-priced home in Horry County takes a higher percentage of a median income than it has at anytime in the last eight years and is more than six points above the historic average, according to data from RealtyTrac, a company that tracks real estate information nationwide.

As recently as a year ago, the data said, it took 16.3 percent of a median income to make a month’s payment on a median-priced home in Horry County.

According to the information, buyers of median-priced homes in Horry County today need to dedicate between 30.6 percent and 32.17 percent of their median income, depending on the loan’s interest rate, to pay the monthly mortgage.

The listed payment includes taxes and insurance.

The study, which examined home affordability for approximately 1,200 counties nationwide, showed that buyers in South Carolina’s coastal counties need to reserve up to twice as much of their income for mortgage payments, taxes and insurance than those inland.

Charleston County buyers pay the highest percentage of their incomes, 35.1 percent, among four coastal counties. Those in Spartanburg County pay as little as 12.1 percent of their incomes for a median-priced home, according to RealtyTrac.

In Georgetown County, it takes approximately 30 percent of a median income to pay the mortgage on a median-priced home.

The numbers haven’t seemed to affect real estate activity and don’t alarm bankers, said two who deal in those areas locally.

“That’s very typical,” said Mark Branstrom, president of the bank’s retail mortgage group.

In fact, he said that the Horry County figure is well within federal guidelines for a qualified mortgage, which say the monthly payment shouldn’t exceed more than 43 percent of the borrower’s income.

Tad Fulford of Re/Max Southern Shores, said he was a bit surprised by the number in Horry County, but it doesn’t seemed to have impacted activity.

“It’s not slowing down the momentum,” he said.

RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said that affordability can be a different animal in coastal counties than inland because home sales are significantly impacted by people moving from other areas.

In Horry County, for instance, Blomquist noted that the figures include those of people paying cash, as some retirees do after selling homes in other markets.

While many are concerned about the amount of monthly payments, those paying cash likely would be more concerned that they’re getting what they want.

It could also be that home sales, not just in Horry but nationwide, have swung to the higher-priced ranges. Locally, for instance, there has been a surge in the number of sales of homes priced above $300,000.

That and the low inventory of cheaper homes in Horry County could require some to buy a home that’s more expensive than they would otherwise.

“People are digging into their pocketbooks and deciding it’s worth it,” Blomquist said.

RealtyTrac got the median price information from sales deeds recorded at the county level. Annual median household income data came from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2000 to 2012. Annual median household income for 2013 to 2014 was estimated based upon 2000 to 2012 numbers and then adjusted for current market conditions.

In calculating average house payments, fixed 30-year mortgage rates were obtained from Freddie Mac for every month. It was assumed that the average borrower would make a 20 percent down payment , the mortgage term would be 30 years, and insurance combined with property tax would be 1.39 percent of the value of the home.

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