House

Long considered a key component of the American Dream, homeownership is quickly growing out of reach for many lower-income Williamson County residents, with the county exhibiting some of the most drastic increases in housing costs in the entire state.

Williamson County is not alone in seeing soaring housing costs. Across the United States, the median home cost has risen by 87.9 percent from 2011 to 2021, jumping from $164,000 to more than $308,000. In that same period, the median household income rose by just 30 percent, from $50,502 to $65,712.

Tennessee as a whole faired slightly better than the country at large, with the median home cost jumping by 84.9% from 2011 to 2021, from $134,000 to almost $248,000. Wages during that same period increased by 34.5 percent.

The disparity between the rise in home costs and incomes in Williamson County, however, dwarfs both Tennessee and the country at large.

In 2011, the median household income was $86,962, and the median home price was roughly $322,000 according to the Zillow Home Value Index. At those levels of income and housing costs, the typical Williamson County home would cost 3.7 times that of a typical yearly household income.

As of September of this year, the median home price skyrocketed to $674,233, a staggering 109.4 percent increase over 2011, and a 30.3 percent increase from September of last year alone. The median household income, however, increased this year when compared to 2011 by just 32.8 percent to $115,507.

To put the disparity in perspective, the typical Williamson County home today would cost almost six times that of a typical yearly household income.

View below for a breakdown of all of Williamson County's municipalities:

Of Williamson County's six municipalities, Spring Hill saw the largest disparity between wage growth and housing costs, seeing both the smallest increase in household income as well as the largest growth in home costs.

The median home cost in Spring Hill increased by a staggering 122.5% between 2011 and 2021, jumping from $189k to more than $420k. Median household income on the other hand increased by just 19.9% during that same time period, from $75,728 to $90,778.

Fairview saw the second largest jump in housing costs over the last 10 years, increasing by 117.3% from $174k to more than $378k, with household incomes increasing by just 24.4%.

Save for Franklin, which saw its median home cost increase from 2011 to 2021 by 99.9%, every municipality in the county saw its housing costs increase by more than double over the past 10 years.

Housing costs did not always outpace typical yearly incomes in the United States by more than five times.

In August of 1975, the median home cost was $32,664, which when adjusted for inflation comes out to $164,537 in today's dollars.

That same year, the median household income was $13,720, meaning the typical American home cost just over two times that of a typical annual salary.

During the early 1970s, however, home prices continued to increase relative to the buying power of the dollar, whereas wages stagnated.

It's this wage stagnation, coupled with ever-increasing housing costs, that have led to homeownership growing smaller with each successive generation. Per the 2020 U.S. Census, only 38.1 percent of those aged 35 and below are homeowners, compared to 79.3 percent of those aged 65 and up.

Whether Williamson County's home price surge continues into 2022 remains to be seen, though analysts have predicted at least a deacceleration by sometime next year.