Experts say $100,000 annual income is enough to be a SWFL home buyer

After The Wall Street Journal reported homeowners need to make over $100,000 annually to buy or keep a home, we looked into that to see if this discovery rings true for homeowners in Southwest Florida. Housing market experts say this report is more reliable for major cities. And they told us how affordability works for this area.

There are houses for sale in Fort Myers and throughout Lee County Thursday, but for people we spoke to, the homes are out of their price range, no matter the list price.

“It’s just a little much to have the down payment on top of student loans,” Brandon Bentley said. “So I don’t foresee buying for the next few years until I can get those loans down.”

Debt is a major reason why WSJ says making $100,000 a year might not be enough to buy a home, and it rings true for Bentley in Fort Myers.

But local mortgage brokers and realtors we spoke to say the WSJ report applies more appropriately to cities like San Francisco, Denver and New York City — not Fort Myers.

“Have the knowledge to know what it’s going to take to get into a house,” said Juan Aguinaga a realtor in Southwest Florida.

Aguinaga told us a home on the market for $260,000 in Fort Myers is affordable for an individual or family whose total income is $100,000 if they can afford the 5% to 10% down payment — $13,000 to $26,000.

The WSJ says nearly 20 percent of households with six-figure incomes chose to rent instead of buy. In general, they treat their rental home like it’s theirs and enjoy the fact they don’t have to pay for an appliance that stops working, a new roof or a paint job.

Nigel Fullick, a local real estate broker, told us it comes down to priorities. He said making $100,000 annually should allow most households to pay their bills and save for the down payment.

“The person who makes a million dollars a year that consistently makes late payments and has large amounts of debt is not as credit worthy as the nurse or schoolteacher that makes $50,000 a year but pays all their bills on time,” Fullick said.

And we are told now is the time to buy, with interest rates at near-record lows.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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