Counties where mortgage payments have jumped the most in the past two years

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Counties where mortgage payments have jumped the most in the past two years

From tiny coastal towns in Maine to massive California metros, the national housing market has been roaring since the start of the pandemic. What started with an uptick in buying after mortgage rates fell to record lows quickly became a home-buying frenzy as the shift to remote work took hold. Buyers, suddenly free to work from any location, began snatching up homes in nearly every market and leaving housing shortages and vastly increased home prices in their wake.

We’re now nearly two years into the global pandemic, but thus far, the frantic home-buying trends we saw at the start of the public health crisis have persisted. Most markets are still experiencing severe housing shortages—and while there have been bids to build more housing, the ongoing supply chain issues have made it nearly impossible to meet the increased demand.

That said, there are signs that some of the frenzied home buying has started to slow. But while things may cool off a bit more over the next few months, the slower housing market pace may not translate to cheaper home prices. In fact, future homebuyers could be in for a surprise as home prices are expected to stay high until well into 2022. Purchasing a home will become even more expensive if predictions of rising interest and mortgage rates from inflation materialize.

If this happens, it will likely cause a big uptick in the average monthly cost of mortgage payments in certain markets across the nation. In fact, we’ve already seen that trend occur in many markets due to the housing issues we’ve faced over the last two years. But where exactly is it happening—and why?

Better, a homeownership platform with a free mortgage calculator, analyzed 2021 Q2 data from the National Association of REALTORS Housing Statistics and the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This was done to determine where median monthly mortgage payments have increased the most between 2019 and 2021.

To determine the 2019 median mortgage payments, Better took the median home value for every county from the American Community Survey 2019 5-Year Estimates and calculated the monthly mortgage payment at a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with 10% down at a 3.94% interest rate. The monthly payments in this story do not include other costs of property ownership, such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, or HOA fees.

To determine the 2021 median home value and mortgage payment data, the National Association of REALTORS applied the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index to the 2019 median home values from the American Community Survey. It then calculated the monthly mortgage payment at a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 10% down at a 3% interest rate. The 2021 calculations also don’t take into account any other costs besides principal and interest.

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#25. Wise County, Texas

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,053 (25.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $839
– Median home value in 2021: $277,470 (41.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $196,700
– 2020 county population: 68,632

Wise County may not sound familiar, but this tiny county is part of the massive Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area—one of the largest in the state. The DFW metro area has exploded in population and median home price in recent years, causing the median monthly mortgage payment to jump significantly in the last two years.

In 2020, Wise County had the biggest increase in home price appreciation of any county in north Texas, and the pandemic only added to the rise. An uptick in median home sales prices means buyers are paying more for houses, which in turn has caused monthly mortgage payments to be significantly higher in Wise County than they were just two years ago.

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#24. El Paso County, Colorado

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,491 (25.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,188
– Median home value in 2021: $392,899 (41.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $278,500
– 2020 county population: 730,395

The housing market across the entire state of Colorado has been on fire for the last few years, and the pandemic’s aggressive home buying helped to accelerate things even further over the last year or two.

The market in El Paso County has been no exception. El Paso County homebuyers now pay, on average, about $126,000 more than they did in 2019—which means that many of these buyers are stuck taking out larger mortgages and paying back higher loan amounts each month.

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#23. Stevens County, Kansas

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $482 (25.7% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $383
– Median home value in 2021: $127,087 (41.4% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $89,900
– 2020 county population: 5,250

Historically, homes in the southwest Kansas county of Stevens County have been extremely affordable compared to other areas in the nation. While this area still trends less expensive overall, the median home price in this county has exploded in growth over the last two years.

The median home price in Stevens County skyrocketed by about $40,000 from 2019 to 2021—a particularly significant increase considering that the average home price in 2019 was just under $90,000. And, with a countywide average 2019 per capita income of just $24,652, the swift uptick in housing prices would have made it impossible for some buyers to purchase a home without a substantial mortgage loan and, in turn, higher-than-average monthly mortgage payments.

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#22. Washington County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,569 (26.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,243
– Median home value in 2021: $413,434 (41.9% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $291,300
– 2020 county population: 180,279

For the last two years, the housing market in Washington County—which includes cities like St. George and Hildale—has been extremely competitive, with an influx of cash buyers helping to deplete the housing inventory in the area.

But while home prices rose significantly, the wages in this county did not follow suit, leaving buyers without the cash in hand to take out larger mortgage loans. With bigger mortgage loans comes higher monthly payments, which is at least part of why the median monthly home payment has increased significantly over the last two years in Washington County.

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#21. Polk County, Oregon

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,493 (26.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,180
– Median home value in 2021: $393,438 (42.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $276,700
– 2020 county population: 87,433

The entire state of Oregon has been a huge draw for homebuyers over the last couple of years, and Polk County, which is part of the Portland-Vancouver-Salem metro area in the Willamette Valley, is no exception. As more and more buyers were priced out of the expensive Portland market during the pandemic, they flocked to areas like Polk County where they could still be in relative proximity to the city but also get access to affordable home prices. In turn, the median home values in Polk County exploded.

Buyers financing their homes found themselves taking out larger mortgage loans to buy homes in this county—and paying a lot more each month for their mortgage payments.

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#20. Lake County, Tennessee

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $359 (27.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $282
– Median home value in 2021: $94,701 (43.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $66,000
– 2020 county population: 7,005

Lake County, located on the Mississippi River and Reelfoot Lake in the upper northwest corner of Tennessee, is home to a number of tiny rural towns that have been a big draw for local and out-of-state buyers looking to capitalize on the extremely low mortgage rates and escape more highly populated areas. This has caused big competition for the available housing in Lake County.

Higher home prices often require bigger mortgage loans, and buyers are now paying more than 27% more each month for their mortgage payments than they were just two years ago.

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#19. Williamson County, Texas

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,436 (27.7% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,125
– Median home value in 2021: $378,412 (43.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $263,700
– 2020 county population: 609,017

The counties that comprise the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area have exploded in growth in recent years, and that includes Williamson County, Texas. This county, which is home to towns like Georgetown and Round Rock, has been a hotspot for buyers who want to be close to the Austin area but don’t want to pay the high prices that come with it.

While Williamson County saw an influx of new buyers prior to the pandemic, the demand for housing in this county has only increased in the time since—and the housing prices have followed suit.

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#18. Clayton County, Georgia

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $632 (28.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $493
– Median home value in 2021: $166,660 (44.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $115,600
– 2020 county population: 297,595

The Atlanta metro area has grown significantly in recent years, and in turn, Clayton County (part of that metro) has also exploded in growth. Clayton County historically had some of the most affordable homes in the metro area, which were a draw for buyers looking for a deal in and around Atlanta. And, as Atlanta’s home prices soared during the pandemic, new buyers flocked to Clayton County, causing median home values to increase by nearly 45% over the last two years.

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#17. Tooele County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,261 (28.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $983
– Median home value in 2021: $332,386 (44.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $230,500
– 2020 county population: 72,698

Tooele County is located just half an hour from the Salt Lake City metro area, which is one of the main drivers of the increase in the cost of monthly mortgage payments in the region. As with the rest of the state, Salt Lake City has seen a huge influx of new homebuyers over the last two years, causing prices to increase and pushing many would-be buyers out of the market. This has led to a new influx of buyers to target more affordable suburban areas like Tooele County.

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#16. Pitkin County, Colorado

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $2,681 (28.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $2,090
– Median home value in 2021: $706,430 (44.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $490,000
– 2020 county population: 17,358

Housing in Pitkin County, home to beautiful towns like Glenwood Springs and Aspen, has always been a hot commodity—and the competition among buyers has only gotten stiffer in the last two years. Throngs of buyers set their sights on Aspen and Glenwood Springs during the pandemic, and with limited housing inventory, the home prices shot up quickly in Pitkin County.

A rapidly rising median home value in Pitkin County forced new buyers to take out significantly larger loans, saddling them with monthly mortgage notes that are much higher than they would have been just two years ago.

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#15. Spokane County, Washington

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,246 (28.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $971
– Median home value in 2021: $328,400 (44.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $227,700
– 2020 county population: 539,339

Spokane County is home to the city of Spokane, which is the second-largest city in the state. Driving the jump in mortgage payments is due to a massive influx of new residents—particularly from the West Coast—who caused a housing shortage. From 2019 to 2020, the median home values in Spokane County increased by nearly 45%.

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#14. Robertson County, Tennessee

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,075 (29.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $833
– Median home value in 2021: $283,397 (45.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $195,200
– 2020 county population: 72,803

The median mortgage payment in Robertson County, Tennessee, located about 45 minutes from Nashville, has grown significantly over the last two years. That uptick in median mortgage payment can be contributed, at least in part, to a swift uptick in median home value in this area. From 2019 to 2021, the median home value in Robertson County grew by nearly $90,000, making it a lot more expensive for buyers to purchase homes in towns like Springfield or Coopertown. Wages in Robertson County, however, have not kept pace with the housing market, meaning that buyers with average incomes in this area would likely need to finance more to purchase a home, leading to higher monthly mortgage payments.

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#13. Cache County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,311 (30.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,008
– Median home value in 2021: $345,591 (46.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $236,300
– 2020 county population: 133,154

Cache County, located in northern Utah, sits on the border of southern Idaho, about 1.5 hours from the Salt Lake City metro area. But while Cache County is hardly a suburb of Salt Lake, its relative distance from the populous city has had no impact on the area’s rapidly rising housing prices, which have risen in tandem with the rest of Utah over the last two years.

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#12. Davis County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,627 (30.8% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,244
– Median home value in 2021: $428,765 (47.0% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $291,600
– 2020 county population: 362,679

A rapid uptick in home values has occurred across much of the state of Utah, but in Davis County, the county’s close proximity to Salt Lake City has likely contributed to the rapidly rising housing prices, as buyers who were priced out of Salt Lake looked for housing to purchase in more affordable areas.

The area is among the biggest housing markets in the West for 2021. The Salt Lake City area has seen a boom recently, with the city experimenting with a variety of ways to address the ongoing housing issue that’s been further exacerbated. With so much growth in the region and demand up, mortgage rates followed suit.

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#11. Utah County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,717 (31.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,309
– Median home value in 2021: $452,425 (47.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $306,800
– 2020 county population: 659,399

The recent increase in median home value in Utah County is likely due to a number of factors, from the pandemic to the recent influx of tech companies to the area. Demand for housing led to a housing shortage, driving prices up by nearly $150,000 from 2019 to 2021.

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#10. Salt Lake County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,705 (31.4% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,298
– Median home value in 2021: $449,365 (47.7% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $304,300
– 2020 county population: 1,185,238

Salt Lake County—home to Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, and other cities—is the most populous county in the state. It’s also grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.

As the thriving economy draws in more new residents to Salt Lake City, housing has been at a premium, and the 2021 median home value reflects that. Some prospective buyers in the area have even taken to sending cover letters and even “love letters” to stand out from competing bidders.

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#9. Bonneville County, Idaho

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,056 (31.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $803
– Median home value in 2021: $278,324 (47.8% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $188,300
– 2020 county population: 123,964

As remote work became a reality for much of the nation, suburban areas like Idaho Falls became a hot commodity for homebuyers from across the nation, leading to a shortage of housing inventory and a rapid uptick in home values.

To answer some of the demand, a new housing and commercial development project in Bonneville County was announced this year, with The Wasatch Group buying up 60 acres. The company expects to break ground on the housing project in 2022.

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#8. Cowlitz County, Washington

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,283 (32.0% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $972
– Median home value in 2021: $338,155 (48.4% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $227,800
– 2020 county population: 110,730

Homes in Cowlitz County were relatively affordable just two years ago, but that all changed when the pandemic took aim at the U.S. economy. The residual strain on the housing inventory in Cowlitz County sent prices skyrocketing by more than $110,000 in just two years’ time.

Potential buyers aren’t just facing higher price tags, either: They’re having to go up against lenders who will only meet a home’s appraised value rather than a seller’s asking price.

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#7. Weber County, Utah

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,293 (33.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $969
– Median home value in 2021: $340,852 (50.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $227,100
– 2020 county population: 262,223

Weber County’s rising home values and mortgage payments are driven by buyers flocking to the area for affordable home prices and proximity to Salt Lake City. As prices in Salt Lake City skyrocketed during the pandemic, priced-out buyers turned to cities like Ogden, which is located in Weber County, for more affordable options. This led to a housing shortage, vastly increased home prices, and now new homeowners—many of whom purchased housing in Weber County at record-high prices—are now stuck shelling out nearly 34% more each month on average for their monthly mortgage payments.

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#6. Wibaux County, Montana

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $518 (38.8% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $373
– Median home value in 2021: $136,519 (56.0% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $87,500
– 2020 county population: 937

Compared to the rest of the country, home prices in Wibaux County, Montana, were extremely affordable back in 2019. Thanks to a buying frenzy caused by low mortgage rates during the pandemic, the prices in Wibaux County have skyrocketed by nearly 60% in the two years since.

That said, the 2021 median home price in Wibaux County is still incredibly affordable—and while homeowners are now paying nearly 40% more for their monthly mortgage payments, the average payment is still just over $500 each month.

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#5. Haakon County, South Dakota

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $444 (39.3% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $319
– Median home value in 2021: $117,138 (56.8% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $74,700
– 2020 county population: 1,872

Home values in Haakon County—a county with a population of less than 2,000—have historically been well below the national average. While prices have rapidly increased over the last two years, that still holds true.

Over the last two years, buyers, enticed by extremely low mortgage rates during the pandemic, caused a nearly 60% uptick in home prices in this county. Haakon County homeowners are now paying a lot more, on average, for their mortgage payments every month with the median monthly mortgage payment up by about 40% compared to 2019.

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#4. Kootenai County, Idaho

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,582 (41.8% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,115
– Median home value in 2021: $416,910 (59.4% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $261,500
– 2020 county population: 171,362

As home prices in Spokane, Washington—just an hour outside Kootenai County—exploded over the last two years along with median monthly mortgage payments, priced-out buyers turned their eyes to Kootenai County. Here, they found substantially cheaper housing in close proximity to the Washington metro. This caused the median home value in Kootenai County to surge by nearly 60% from 2019 to 2021.

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#3. Ada County, Idaho

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,716 (46.1% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $1,175
– Median home value in 2021: $452,219 (64.2% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $275,400
– 2020 county population: 494,967

Boise, the biggest city in Ada County, has widely been cited as a prime example of a pandemic boomtown, with eager homebuyers pushing home prices higher and higher over the last two years.

Ada County reached some new records in 2021: The ​median home sale price crossed $500,000 the first time, and in June it reached $525,000.​​

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#2. Canyon County, Idaho

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $1,167 (49.5% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $781
– Median home value in 2021: $307,476 (68.0% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $183,000
– 2020 county population: 231,105

Canyon County is part of the Boise metro area. As has been the case with neighboring Ada County, the pandemic had a massive impact on the home prices and subsequent monthly mortgage payments in Canyon County. Buyers who were priced out of Boise during the pandemic could turn to nearby towns and cities in Canyon County to purchase homes at significantly lower prices. This caused a swift uptick in the median home values in Canyon County, which increased by over $120,000 from 2019 to 2021.

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#1. Loup County, Nebraska

– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2021: $472 (49.9% greater than in 2019)
– Median monthly mortgage payment in 2019: $315
– Median home value in 2021: $124,459 (68.6% greater than in 2019)
– Median home value in 2019: $73,800
– 2020 county population: 607

Prior to the pandemic, home prices in the tiny central Nebraska county of Loup County had nowhere to go but up. Once the pandemic hit, the prices skyrocketed. Between 2019 to 2021, the median home value in Loup County increased by almost 70% — which is a huge surge for a county with just over 600 residents.

In turn, the median monthly mortgage payment in Loup County grew by over $150—which may not sound like a significant amount, but is nearly 50% more than the median monthly mortgage payment was in Loup County back in 2019.

This story originally appeared on Better
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