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Youngstown Oh: 3rd most affordable metro area
Youngstown Oh.
$72,000: A 3-bed, 2-bath contemporary on a small lot.
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Median home price: $73,000
Median income: $52,000
Affordability score: 89.4%

Youngstown was a major steel city, a vibrant, wealthy area for many decades. Factory workers enjoyed some of the highest wages anywhere. But following the closing of many of its mills in the late 1970s, the area's economy went into free-fall.

A lack of other industry meant that the trajectory of decline was even more severe than the most places where steel was made. About 40,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. Today, 8.9% of workers in the area are unemployed.

The Youngstown economy has been absorbing another blow lately as one of the area's major employers, GM's Lordstown Assembly plant, has scaled back to one shift as auto sales dropped, from three as recently as 2006.

A shrinking population within the city itself has left it with a huge number of vacant homes for sale from modest, single family homes to huge mansions. That helps keep median home price in the metro area very low at $73,000, according to the NAHB-Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

Financing 80% of a $73,000 home with a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage at the current low interest rate of around 5% would result in a monthly payment of $313. At those kinds of prices, renters soon become homebuyers.

Even with the area's median income at a modest $52,000, 89.4% of homes sold during the fourth quarter are affordable for the typical household.

NEXT: Detroit Mich: 4th most affordable metro area
Last updated February 26 2009: 12:46 PM ET
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