The 5 U.S. cities with the most homes under $100,000

The median home value in the U.S. is now nearly $248,900, but in these five cities you can find lots of affordable homes listed at under $100,000.

Philadelphia, Panama Street.

It's getting more expensive to buy a house in the United States. The median home value in the country spiked more than 4% in the past year despite the coronavirus pandemic: It's now at nearly $248,900.

If you're in the market for a house, you could find a much more affordable place than that. It just depends on where you're looking and how responsible you can be with your budget.

GOBankingRates used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Realtor.com to find the 125 most populous U.S. cities and the percentage of listings below $100,000. The big winner: Chicago. The median home value there hovers around $249,100, just above the national level. However, it touts the highest number of active listings under $100,000 relative to its total number of listings.

Here are the top five American cities with the most affordable homes:

1. Chicago, Illinois

Total active listings: 17,392
Active listings under $100,000: 1,674
Percentage of listings under $100,000: 9.6%

Row houses on the Gold Coast of Chicago.

2. Detroit, Michigan

Total active listings: 2,185
Active listings under $100,000: 1,484
Percentage of listings under $100,000: 67.9%

GM Renaissance Center.

3. Houston, Texas

Total active listings: 16,531
Active listings under $100,000: 1,258
Percentage of listings under $100,000: 7.6%

Street photography around Downtown Houston, Texas.

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  

Total active listings: 6,527
Active listings under $100,000: 1,167
Percentage of listings under $100,000: 17.9% 

Philadelphia, Panama Street.

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

Total active listings: 4,444
Active listings under $100,000: 956
Percentage of listings under $100,000: 21.5%

Indianapolis, Indiana.
f11photo | Getty Images

Follow the 30/30/3 rule

Finding a home valued at less than half of the national median is just one piece of the puzzle. Consumers should take the full picture into account to create a financial plan for the future.

One expert-advised method for housing is the 30/30/3 rule. It recommends spending no more than 30% of your gross income on monthly mortgage; having another 30% of the home value saved in cash; and that the price of the home stay under three times your annual income.

Mortgage rates have been falling as fewer people refinance their homes, but that doesn't mean you should spend more than 30% of your gross income on your mortgage. As the coronavirus crisis leaves certain industries less steady, it makes sense to have more cash at your disposal.

"By and large, homeownership has long been touted as the way you build wealth," Deborah Kearns, a mortgage analyst at Bankrate, told Grow this summer. "While that's still true to some extent, you can't overextend yourself to make that happen."

How to make your home-buying dream a reality

Video by Jason Armesto

You'll want to have at least 30% of the home value saved in cash or low-risk investments before buying. Experts suggest 20% for the down payment and a 10% cash buffer for miscellaneous expenses.

Lastly, aim to stay within budget by spending no more than three times what you make annually. If you earn $33,000 per year, you can reasonably afford a $100,000 home. If you, however, like the average millennial, make around $47,000 per year, you might be able to afford a bit more.

More from Grow:

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns


About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2019 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.