Where do you live? And what is your dwelling of choice?
There’s a purpose for my prying: housing costs. They’re on the rise.
In fact, a California-based property database company said single-family homes nationwide are at their least affordable level in a decade.
ATTOM Data Solutions’ most recent U.S. Home Affordability Report shows its proprietary affordability index – in which anything above 100 indicates median home prices are more affordable than historic averages – fell to 95 during the second quarter, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2008, when the index was 86.
Part of the problem has been the 11 percent increase in mortgage rates from a year ago, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president for the Irving, Calif., company. The other part of the equation is rising home prices.
“Home price appreciation continued to outpace wage growth, speeding up the affordability treadmill for prospective home buyers even without the rise in mortgage rates,” Blomquist said.
In metro Augusta, Columbia County was the least affordable area. Residents earning the county’s average annual wage of $38,090 would have to set aside 38.1 percent of their income to afford the median home sales price of $187,000.
Richmond County, on the other hand, was most affordable. There, it took only 16.4 percent of the county’s average annual wage of $45,058 to afford the median priced home of $93,250.
Aiken County fell in the middle, with 20.5 percent of average annual wages of $49,049 required to purchase the median priced home of $137,000.
Fortunately, the Augusta area has historically been a low-cost housing market. Things could always be worse – we could be California.
And speaking of the Golden State, another California real estate research firm reported year-over-year home prices in Georgia and South Carolina during May rose 6.2 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. CoreLogic said prices increased 7.1 percent nationally during the same period, and 3.8 percent in metro Augusta.
“The lean supply of homes for sale is leading to higher sales prices and fewer days on market, and the supply shortage is more acute for entry-level homes,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said.
Interestingly, metro Augusta lakefront homes have actually fallen in price – at least on the Georgia side, according to Alabama-based Lake Homes Realty.
Though the total Clarks Hill/Thurmond Lake real estate market grew 13 percent to $54.7 million over the past year, the company said the average lake home on the Georgia side of the water decreased 13.2 percent to $304,984. During the same period on the South Carolina side, prices increased 7.7 percent to $334,225.
The number of lake homes listed for sale have increased 15 percent from last summer, said the company, which operates Lakehomes.com.
As for apartments, rents in the Augusta area continue to climb. San Francisco-based Apartment List said metro Augusta’s median two-bedroom apartment in May hit $770, a 1.8 percent increase from the previous year, which is below the state average of 2.2 percent but exceeds the national average of 1.4 percent.
Of the 250 largest cities in the country, Apartment List ranks Augusta No. 153, compared to No. 212 in 2017.
Some of the most affordable housing in the area comes with wheels. Apartment List said the median monthly housing costs for mobile home households in Augusta was $523, compared to $878 for non-mobile home households.
Despite the low costs, the percentage of area households living in mobile homes fell 36.8 percent from 2000, when 15.5 percent of the market lived in a mobile home, to just under 10 percent in 2016.
The company’s report refers to mobile homes the largest source of “unsubsidized affordable housing in the U.S.”
Nationally, one in 18 American households live in mobile homes, a figure that’s roughly equal to the number of albums sold by Kid Rock.
FORGET DOG, BEWARE OF OWNER: How do we Americans secure our homes? The largest share of us, 52.3 percent, rely on dogs.
That’s according to ASecureLife.com, a website dedicated to reviewing home-security products and services.
The company’s nationwide survey of 1,000 people showed 40 percent use a gun to protect their castles, with Southerners – 47 percent – most likely to use a firearm and Northeasterners the least likely, at 25 percent.
Just 21 percent of respondents said they use a full security system.
SECURITY OF THE CYBER VARIETY: Metro area cybersecurity and information technology-related jobs contribute more than $1 billion to the local economy in salary alone, according to Augusta University.
AU’s recently released 2018 Cybersecurity Workforce Study also said information-security positions increased from 12,716 in 2016 to 14,765 in 2017, a 16 percent gain. About 3,330 of those jobs were outside Fort Gordon and had a mean salary of $70,609, according to the study, which was created by AU’s Cyber Institute and Master in Public Administration program
“The economic impact of these high-paid professionals is why we’re calling cybersecurity growth in the Augusta metro area a tsunami,” said Dr. William Hatcher, director of the MPA program.
AU research collected the data from local businesses, nonprofits and public agencies to determine workforce needs in the local cybersecurity industry as well as assist in curriculum development.
The university offers bachelor’s bachelor’s degrees in computer science and information technology. It also offers cyber defender and advanced cyber defender certificates.
“Our students are learning the latest skills that will help them be ready for demanding jobs locally and worldwide,” said Dr. Mark Harris, director of graduate studies in information security management. “We have a strong curriculum at AU, as evidenced by our nine Department of Defense scholarship winners selected out of 50 nationwide.”
NOT-SO-AVERAGE WAGES: Research by Business.org, a website that provides reviews and recommendations on services and software for small businesses, found average annual tech salaries in Augusta exceeded the state average.
The website’s review of 100 U.S. cities said the average tech salary in Augusta is $68,570 compared to the average statewide tech salary of $53,559. The company’s analysts calculated their averages using occupational employment statistics for jobs such as network architects, programmers and database administrators from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As for extreme examples, Palm Bay, Fla., had the widest disparity with the average tech salaries in the city at $159,380 compared to the state tech salary average of $50,860; Jackson, Mo., had the narrowest gap, with tech workers earning an average of $64,020 compared to the state salary average of $51,746.
FINGERPAINT, NAPS AND COMPUTER PROGRAMMING: We keep hearing from local leaders that cybersecurity workers relocating here want high-quality education for their children. Word must be spreading because a leading private preschool provider has its sights set on Augusta.
Acworth, Ga.-based Primrose Schools, which operates more than 325 franchise schools in two dozen states, lists Augusta as a “top-priority” market, along with Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbia, S.C.; and Tallahassee, Fla.
Bill Pierquet, Primrose senior vice president of school development, said the company wants to meet the needs of parents working in the city’s growing medical and cybersecurity industries.
“Primrose Schools is attracted to everything Augusta has to offer – a large population of families with young children, a thriving community and a promising future,” Pierquet said. “We are actively looking for suitable sites, and it’s our hope to bring the Primrose Experience to Augusta families very soon.”
The company has doubled its number of schools since 2010 and is ranked No. 1 in the child care category of Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.
Pierquet said the company’s goal is to be in Augusta by 2020. That, by the way, is the same year Army Cyber Command is expected to complete it’s move to Fort Gordon.
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or email@example.com.