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The site's calculations assume that a buyer spends 28 percent of gross monthly income on housing, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, (in line with industry guidelines for standard "front-end" debt ratios) and makes a 20 percent down payment on a house. To calculate the cost of buying the median-priced house in a given urban area, HSH.com combines its own average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages in the fourth quarter; the National Association of Realtors’ data on median-home prices in the fourth quarter; average metropolitan property tax data from the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank; and statewide average homeowner insurance premium costs from the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization.
The data is, of course, an estimate — for one, property taxes and insurance costs will vary depending on the property — but it gives you a good idea of how housing costs varied around the country in the fourth quarter. You can read more about the methodology and see the site's data here.
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