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Solid labor and wage growth spurs increased burden-free accessibility for some American renters

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Since the housing market collapse a decade ago, rising wages have improved accessibility to affordable rentals for median income Americans, according to a new study by the listing site RentCafe.

Today, fewer median income earners are rent burdened and have burden-free access to more apartments. Rent-burdened is defined as spending  more than 30 percent of a household’s income on housing costs.

The basic idea behind accessibility is fairly simple — it’s the percentage of all apartments in a market that one can afford with a given income,” reads the report.

Accessibility offers a more detailed look at the cross-section of where the job market and the housing market intertwine reveals what the rental market has to offer and for how much, and most importantly, how much of it can renters afford.

“A broader way to understand the rental market is by looking at accessibility, since comparing incomes against the number of units that are affordable gives an entirely different picture of a rental market,” writes real estate writer Balazs Szekely, who authored the study.

Rising home prices and erosion of affordability have caused demand to surge in the rental market. Renter households have steadily increased following the financial crisis, as for many Americans renting was the only way out of the collapse.

At the national level, the median renter income grants burden-free access to 49 percent of all rental stock, up 11 percentage points from 2011. Between 2011 and 2017, access to rental housing for median earners has improved in 40 of the 50 largest cities.

At the same time, nationwide median gross rent has grown by 16 percent while the median income for renter households has grown by around 26 percent. The highest accessibility rates were shaped by strong wages, not “cheap rents,” says Szekely.

Accessibility rates are the highest for median wage earners in Raleigh, North Carolina (71 percent), San Francisco, California (68 percent), and Omaha, Nebraska (64 percent).

But large salaries, expensive homes, and strict rent control have created a unique market in San Francisco, where the median renter household income is over $92,000 — more than twice the national level.

San Francisco’s favorable labor market conditions have of course impacted this figure directly, but as an indirect effect, they have also pushed the median home price to over $1 million.

“This makes renting the only way to go for young professionals, even for those with paychecks that most homeowners elsewhere in the country only dream about,” says Szekely.

At the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana had the worst accessibility rates of the 50 largest cities.

Millennials are also fueling demand for rental housing. They are reportedly highly motivated to live in urban areas to be closer to booming job markets and they’re priced out of the buying market, so they’re renting.

And in some white-hot tech-driven markets, like San Francisco, employers offer competitive salaries and recruit many younger professionals who have yet to buy a home.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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