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Study: Affordability in Atlanta’s Fulton County increased last year. Huh?

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Fulton among few counties where wage growth outpaced home prices in 2016

A map showing home price growth relative to wage growth in 2016 in the United States. RealtyTrac

Could house-poor Atlanta homeowners and legions of millennials camped out in their parents’ basements be overhyping the affordability crisis? That’s doubtful. But a new analysis suggests things are relatively okay in metro Atlanta.

Georgia’s most populous county, Fulton, is that rare place where affordability in the U.S. has actually increased since early 2016, according to a new study that weighed rising home prices against wage growth.

Fulton, let’s remember, is a large, disparate place that includes both rural southern reaches and economic engines from Atlanta to Alpharetta.

But still—more affordable?

The study by number-crunchers at ATTOM Data Solutions, called the 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index, analyzed 379 counties. Fulton joined just 34 others—that’s 9 percent—where affordability actually improved because wage growth outpaced swelling home prices.

Other counties spanned the country from Kings County (Brooklyn) in New York, to another near Akron, Ohio, and San Francisco County in California.

Overall, the situation was more bleak, as the U.S. "affordability index" has dropped to levels not seen since the dawn of the Great Recession in a majority of local markets, researchers found.

One shining star of affordability, however, was Clayton County, just south of Atlanta. There, average wage earners need just 10.8 percent of their income to buy a median-priced home, the study found.

Contrast that with Manhattan, where buying a pad requires 100.5 percent of average wages.

For more, here's a link to an interesting, interactive affordability map (scroll over the image to zoom).