We Just Can't Afford It

Houston hits bottom as nation's toughest city for renters who want to become homeowners

Houston hits bottom as nation's worst city for renters who want to own

Heights house for sale September 2013 405 Woodland St. double lot
Though many Houstonians want to buy a house, few can afford to do so. Houston Association of Realtors

For many, the traditional "American dream" includes buying a home. In Houston, that dream is dissipating, as recent reports show that most local renters don't have the means to make the jump to home ownership.

Zillow released its latest rental analysis and crowned Houston the least qualified city when it comes to renters turning into homebuyers. The median home price here is $172,900, but only 6.8 percent of renters have the income and credit score necessary to afford that.

The news is also bad for Dallas, which comes in as the fourth worst qualified city. Only 8.2 percent of renters can take a stab at securing a median $189,000 home. In both Dallas and Houston, the overall homeowner rate is about 59 percent.

Things are somewhat similar in No. 15 San Antonio, where despite 61 percent of people owning homes, only 10 percent of renters could afford to join their ranks. A median home there costs $152,300.

Austin is the lone bright spot in Texas, claiming No. 15 on the list of the highest share of renters who can afford to buy. Nearly 13 percent of on-market renters have sufficient credit scores and income to afford the median home in Austin, which runs about $252,900.

Apartment rental website Zumper confirms this, singling out Austin as the place where the gap is smallest between desire to own a home and buyers' ability. It conducted a survey of more than 6,000 of its users and found that while 94.3 percent of Austinites want to buy, 72.1 percent can afford a mortgage within the city proper.

In Houston, the wish is there for 94.5 percent of Zumper users, but only 59.7 percent say they can actually make it a reality. The good news is that the figures are much, much better in Texas than in, say, San Diego, where 91.5 percent want to become homeowners, but only 20 percent think they can.