How much salary does it take to buy a median-priced home?

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A company that tracks mortgage rates around the country has studied how much income is needed to buy a median-priced home in America's 25 largest metro areas.

And the numbers from HSH.com place the Twin Cities squarely in the middle of the pack in terms of affordability.

Using fourth-quarter numbers from the National Association of Realtors, HSH calculated the payments on a median-priced home paying the average interest on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 20 percent downpayment.

In the 13-county Twin Cities area, HSH says you'd need to earn $33,800.

HSH cautions, though, that a larger income will be needed to cover taxes, insurance and other living expenses, while also paying down any other debts.

That median-priced home costs $197,000 in the Twin Cities and the monthly payment would be $788.67.

That ranks 12th among the metro areas. In its analysis, HSH notes that mortgage rates fell by one-third of a point in the Twin Cities in the fourth quarter, which helped affordability.

The most affordable market for home ownership? Cleveland, Ohio. The HSH calculations show a salary of $19, 435 would be sufficient to buy a median-priced home in Cleveland. San Francisco is another story. More than $115, 000 is what you'd need to earn to make the payments on a typically-priced Bay Area home.

In Minnesota Realtors reported January home sales fell 13 percent compared to the same month the year before. They attributed the drop to frigid weather that was not conducive to home shopping.

Realtors in Wisconsin also reported a drop last month, although KDAL reported some of the counties closest to Duluth showed a rise in sales.

Around the country home prices are higher than a year ago. Many homeowners are happy to see their equity grow as those prices rise. But on the other hand, home sales may be stifled if prices rise faster than income.

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