Sarah and Koty Chapman are restaurant workers with a new baby, and the dream of buying a home. They did everything right to achieve their goals. They saved. They paid off debts. They boosted their credit scores. Sarah is finishing a degree in social work and hopes to get her master’s to increase her earning potential. The Chapman’s are an all-American family — and like millions of others, they are being priced out of the housing market. 

Sarah and Koty put offers in on dozens of houses under $300,000. And they lost dozens of bidding wars. Sarah says, “Am I even going to be able to live in my own community? I don’t think it’s fair.” 

“Fair” is not a word often used to describe the housing market, especially in 2021. Like the Chapmans, millions of Americans — and, in our own backyard, 76% of Indiana households — cannot afford the cost of homeownership. They cannot afford to live where they work. This has a ripple effect that extends beyond individuals and families to communities and economies.  

Priced-Out: By the Numbers 

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, says, “It’s extraordinarily hard to become a homeowner for a range of reasons, most significantly that prices have gone skyward.” Post-pandemic, homes are going for tens of thousands of dollars above asking, but even an increase of a relatively modest $1,000 is enough to disqualify thousands. 

Let’s put that into perspective: the median home price in the US is $346,757. At this point, 60% of Americans — 75.1 million households — cannot afford to buy. An increase of $1,000 seems almost insignificant compared to nearly $350,000, but that increase prices an additional 153,967 potential homebuyers out of the market. 

What’s happening in our own backyard? The median new home price is $317,395. Households need an income of at least $70,485 to qualify for a mortgage for that amount. The average median income in Indiana does not come close ($30,005). Of the state’s 2.6 million households, just 1 million can afford to be in the market. A price increase of $1,000 would price out another 4,304 as they would no longer qualify for financing.  

The Other Shoe 

Zandi adds, “The next shoe to fall is higher mortgage rates. As soon as that happens — and it will — homes are going to be completely out of financial reach.” 

According to National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates, adding an additional 25 basis points to a mortgage rate of 2.8% prices out 1.29 million households. A “bip,” as it is called, is one one-hundredth of one percentage point; 25 basis points move the needle on a mortgage rate from, say, 2.5% to 3.05% — enough to crush the dream of individuals and families across the country. 

We have thrown a lot of facts and stats out there. The bottom line is this: buying a home is too expensive for the majority of Americans… and the majority of Hoosiers. 

It can be easy to skim over the numbers and dismiss them with an, “Oh well,” or a “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. But the bottom line on that thinking impacts the bottom line for cities, municipalities, and communities. 

Priced-Out of Communities 

As Sarah Chapman notes with discouragement, she may not be able to live in her community. She is not alone. Housing stock has not kept pace with population growth, and over the past two decades this has cost the US $400 billion in lost GDP. Think of it as a chain reaction:  

Workers that keep our economies churning and our communities vibrant, are faced with limited housing availability and higher prices  Communities have greater difficulty attracting employees to the area → The region is less competitive and cannot draw businesses or investments needed for growth.

It’s no surprise that folks who are below median income feel the pinch. They have to live further afield, increasing transportation costs and traffic. Many can’t, or don’t want to, make it work. There are then fewer people to staff restaurants, shops, medical facilities, emergency services, schools, etc.  

And those who are of median income feel the pressure, too. They have to pay more for housing and decreasing their consumer spending that boosts the economy. They’re also more likely to flee the area in favor of a locale with a lower cost of living, further depleting our talent pool and limiting economic opportunities.  

The future of the workplace and the economy only adds to the pressure. We are seeing growth in several sectors, and that’s good news. But the majority of these are in retail, hospitality services, healthcare and social assistance, and educational services. While vital to our communities, these jobs simply do not allow a single-earner household to afford a new home.  

Hopeful homeowners are facing a perfect storm of circumstances that are barring the way to not only stability and opportunity, but the American Dream as they choose to define it. 

It’s Time to Price Hoosiers In 

Achievable housing empowers hard-working people just like Sarah and Koty Chapman to put down roots. It also benefits entire communities, and their economies. Greater accessibility doesn’t make buying a home easy. It makes it possible. It doesn’t mean people don’t have to save or sacrifice. It means a dream of owning a home in their own communities is, at least, feasible.  

And it doesn’t mean anyone else, including current homeowners, get a smaller piece of the pie; it means that there are more pies (or homes) to go around.  

We cannot afford to wait for creative solutions for achievable housing. Now is the time to act. Visit to learn how we can advocate for and achieve meaningful change.