In Charleston, 24% of Homes Are Affordable on a Teacher’s Salary, Down From More Than 50% Five Years Ago

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As South Carolina teachers prepare to go on strike to demand higher wages, see where housing affordability for the profession has dropped and where it’s remained relatively steady.

Just 24 percent of homes for sale in Charleston, South Carolina are affordable for teachers in the area, down from 52 percent five years ago, but unchanged from last year. Nationwide, 43 percent of homes are affordable on the national average income for teachers, relatively flat from a year ago and down from 61 percent in March 2014.

As public school teachers across South Carolina prepare to go on strike on May 1 to demand higher wages, we’re taking a look at how the share of homes affordable for teachers in several metros throughout the state and on the national level has changed over the last several years:

As you can see in the chart above, the share of affordable homes varies by metro in South Carolina, with more than half of for-sale homes affordable for teachers in Spartanburg and Columbia.

In the Spartanburg metro, the share of homes affordable for teachers has risen over the last year, from 65 percent to 69 percent. That’s partly explained by the relatively low home prices in Spartanburg, where the typical home sold for $183,000 in March, down 2.1 percent year over year.

And in Columbia, teachers can afford 54 percent of the homes for sale in their metro, relatively flat from a year ago and down from 64 percent in March 2014. That decline is slower than the national pace. Housing affordability for teachers in the Greenville area has trended along with that of teachers around the country.

But in some parts of the state, teachers are feeling the pain. The portion of for-sale homes teachers can afford to buy has fallen the most in Charleston, where the typical home sold for $268,000 in March, up 19.1 percent from five years ago.

“Housing affordability in the Charleston market has been an issue for the last few years, largely because wages are not consistent with rising home prices,” said local Redfin agent Shari Broomfield. “Teachers at schools in more expensive parts of Charleston may need to purchase a home in a more affordable part of town, making for a longer commute. For teachers or other people in the area looking to purchase a home, I recommend looking at the South Carolina homebuyer program, which guides residents of the state toward help with down payments and affordable loans.”

Affordability has also dropped in the last five years in the Charlotte metro, which includes parts of South Carolina, but the share of homes affordable for teachers is the same now as it was a year ago.


Using employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we calculated the average of median salaries by metro area for preschool through high school teachers, including special education teachers, in South Carolina. We also calculated the average salary for those types of teachers nationwide. Historical income data is available through December 2018. For January through March 2019, we projected income for teachers using year-over-year growth from 2017 to 2018 and applying that same growth rate from 2018 to 2019. Then, we used list price data from multiple listing services to determine the percentage of homes where the monthly mortgage payment (plus a property tax rate of 1.125%) was equal or less than the maximum monthly mortgage payment possible on the average teacher’s salary for the area based on the rule that homes are affordable only if they cost less that 30 percent of gross income.

Published on April 29th, 2019
Updated on July 15th, 2019

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As a data journalist at Redfin, Dana Olsen writes about the numbers behind real estate trends. Her dream home is either on the beach or in the mountains, but either way, it has a comfortable window seat and cozy fireplace. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our Why Redfin page.

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