By Dominique Fair, Research Associate

2023 was a challenging year for homebuyers as interest rates and home prices remained elevated making it harder for people to buy a home. The affordability issue has had a significant impact on younger buyers who tend to have lower incomes from just starting their careers and higher levels of student loan and credit card debt. The combination of these factors has led to smaller down payments by younger buyers which can lead to higher monthly mortgage payments. Last year, the median monthly housing payment in the U.S. rose to $2,715, up 12.6% from the previous year. For those in their prime homebuying years (25-44 years old) in Virginia many are finding it hard to afford homes in their communities without an increase in pay or significant downpayment. Let’s look at how much household income this buyer demographic needs to purchase a median-priced home in each metro area around the Commonwealth.

MSA Median Sales Price (2023 annual) Estimated Monthly Payment1 on median-priced home Estimate Annual Household Income Needed2 to afford monthly payment on a median-priced home 2023 Estimated Annual Household Income3 of 25-44 year olds
Northern Virginia $596,000 $4,666 $199,972 $126,040
Charlottesville $449,900 $3,522 $150,943 $103,177
Winchester $396,678 $3,105 $133,072 $94,861
Harrisonburg $320,450 $2,509 $107,529 $74,166
Richmond $366,234 $2,867 $122,870 $90,913
Virginia Beach $329,900 $2,582 $110,658 $79,267
Lynchburg $279,900 $2,191 $93,900 $70,641
Blacksburg $275,000 $2,153 $92,280 $70,540
Roanoke $276,000 $2,161 $92,615 $77,210
Virginia (State) $382,725 $2,996 $128,400 $99,182

1Mortgage payment calculated using Fannie Mae Mortgage Calculator, assumes 10% downpayment,1.25% property taxes, 0.75% homeowners’ insurance, 6.74% interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan.

2 Assumes mortgage payment is affordable at 28% of gross household income

3 Median Household Income for 2023 estimated using annual wage growth rate from Atlanta Fed and applying it to the ACS 2022 Median Household Income


In Virginia, homebuyers would need to have a household income of at least $128,400 to afford the median-priced home in 2023 without spending more than 28% of their income on housing. While there is certainly some flexibility depending on which lender is used and the borrower’s credit score, the 28% of gross income metric is a generally followed rule to determine whether a borrower can comfortably afford a housing payment. This household income level is $29,217 more than the estimated 2023 household income. For homebuyers aged 25-44 years old, all nine of Virginia’s metro areas saw median household incomes below the level needed to afford a median-priced home in 2023 in those regions. Many of the smaller to mid-size markets in the state were among the most affordable. Gen-Z and Millennials needed to make $21,740 more to afford a home in the Blacksburg area. Buyers in Roanoke with an income of $77,210, needed to make an additional $15,405 to afford a home in this area, the lowest amount needed across all metro markets in the state. The market that was least affordable for potential homebuyers 25-44 years old was Northern Virginia with buyers having to make $73,932 more, or a 38% jump in household income to afford a monthly payment of $4,666 for a median-priced home.

2023 was the least affordable year for the housing market but the outlook for 2024 is showing some signs of improvement. Mortgage rates are expected to moderate slightly towards the back end of the year, and single-family housing starts are projected to rise 4.7% which could help ease supply issues in some markets which is one of the main drivers of climbing prices. There are ways to help make housing payments for buyers more affordable including down payment assistance grants or looking at different types of homes at a wider range of price points that meet their needs and stay within budget.

For more information on housing, demographic, and economic trends in Virginia, be sure to check out Virginia REALTORS® other Economic Insights blogs.