The median home value divided by the median household income, adjusted for inflation.
The ratio provides a rough estimate of the affordability of homes in a community. A ratio less than 2 or 3 is generally considered affordable.
In 2013-17, homes were not generally very affordable in Essex County, with an affordability ratio of 5.1. This was slightly higher than the state (4.8) and higher than the national ratio (3.4). Housing affordability in Essex County improved somewhat since 2008-12, when the ratio was 5.3, but was still higher than the 2000 level of 4.0.
The least affordable municipalities in Essex County were Manchester-by-the-Sea (7.2), Nahant (6.7) and Rockport (6.6). The most affordable were West Newbury (3.6), Georgetown (3.8) and Groveland, Merrimac and Amesbury (all at 4.0) - all still above the levels considered affordable. Notably, the City of Lawrence, which had the lowest median home value in Essex County in 2013-17, was not particularly affordable, with a ratio of 6.0. This likely reflects the City's relatively low median household income in 2013-17, which was the lowest in the County.
In 2013-17, Essex County was similar to Middlesex, MA (4.9), less affordable than Lake, IL (3.0) and more affordable than Westchester, NY (5.7). Like Essex, all three counties became less affordable from 2000 to 2008-12 and more affordable from 2008-12 to 2013-17, likely due to the housing boom and bust that helped fuel the major recession of 2008-09.
Multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.