Archinect
anchor

Housing Options for a Managing Principal

You've made it to the final installment in my series. It's been a long road: You started off years ago as an entry-level intern architect, worked your way up through the middle ranks, got married along the way, and now you're finally a managing principal at your firm. Now you're finally living the dream.

The 2015 AIA Compensation Report describes your position as follows:

"Licensed architect or other licensed design professional with direct oversight for a market sector, discipline, department or office, who establishes and implements goals and objectives, develops and promotes the firm's values and long-range plans, positions the firm for growth and ensures profitability. Responsible for establishing overall goals and objectives and coordinating implementation plans. In conjunction with other senior leaders, is responsible for realization of profits compatible with interests of clients and the firm. Develops and promotes the firm's vision, mission, core values, and long-range plans. Oversees and controls operations and activities to promote achievement of the firm's objectives. Implements policies established by the board. Participates in creating and positioning the firm to take advantage of opportunities for growth and marketplace expansion. Ensures profitability, quality enhancement, and professional development. May be responsible for some of the tasks of the Director of Human Resources at small to mid-size firms."

My numbers are based on the average base pay for this position, and the following assumptions:

1) Crucially, you've managed to marry somebody who makes roughly the same amount of money you do, and you may or may not have kids living at home. Each of the properties shown has at least three bedrooms.

2) Housing affordability is based on your combined household income, $1000 monthly debt payments (hopefully you've paid off your student loans by now and haven't gone crazy with credit cards), 4.5% APR, and a 20% down payment thanks to the equity you've built up in your previous home and/or inheriting some money from mom and dad.

3) At this point in your career I'm assuming you aren't taking the bus to work, but I show commute times via public transit if it's faster than driving.

4) You've reached a point in your career where you can afford to be somewhat picky about your housing situation, and if you haven't chosen to design and build your own home, you've at least chosen a place that reflects your values as an architect as well as the zeitgeist of its locale.

Sources:

USAA Housing Affordability Calculator: https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/advice_mortgage_affordability_calculator_main

Realtor.com

Let's get started:

Cincinnati, OH
Mean salary: $111,700
Combined income: $223,400
Max. home price: $1,126,700
Down payment: $225,350
Monthly payment: $6633

Shown here: 5 bed / 5 bath, Mount Lookout
Commute time: 15 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1330-Observatory-Dr_Cincinnati_OH_45208_M40355-37946

Asheville, NC
Mean salary: $141,800
Combined income: $283,600
Max. home price: $1,476,100
Down payment: $295,220
Monthly payment: $8690

Shown here: 4 bed / 4.5 bath, North Asheville
Commute time: 18 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/345-Lynn-Cove-Rd_Asheville_NC_28804_M53290-14806

Jacksonville, FL
Mean salary: $107,400
Combined income: $214,800
Max. home price: $1,076,800
Down payment: $215,360
Monthly payment: $6339

Shown here: 3 bed / 2.5 bath, Atlantic Beach
Commute time: 28 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/77-19th-St_Atlantic-Beach_FL_32233_M55410-22252

Chicago, IL
Mean salary: $133,500
Combined income: $267,000
Max. home price: $1,379,800
Down payment: $275,960
Monthly payment: $8123

Shown here: 5 bed / 4 bath, Lincoln Park
Commute time: 26 minutes (Red Line subway to State / Madison)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1143-W-Drummond-Pl_Chicago_IL_60614_M73252-91361

Boston, MA
Mean salary: $172,100
Combined income: $344,200
Max. home price: $1,827,800
Down payment: $365,570
Monthly payment: $10,760

Shown here: 3 bed / 3 bath, North End
Commute time: 15 minutes (Orange Line subway to Downtown Crossing)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/7-Jackson-Ave_Boston_MA_02113_M38123-69274?ex=MA596624993

Philadelphia, PA
Mean salary: $139,700
Combined income: $279,400
Max. home price: $1,451,700
Down payment: $290,350
Monthly payment: $8546

Shown here: 7 bed / 5.5 bath / 4 stables, West Mount Airy
Commute time: 51 minutes (Regional Rail to Suburban Station)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/6925-Scotforth-Rd_Philadelphia_PA_19119_M36190-39587

New York, NY
Mean salary: $158,000
Combined income: $316,000
Max. home price: $1,664,200
Down payment: $332,830
Monthly payment: $9797 + HOA

Shown here: 3 bed / 2 bath, Morningside Heights
Commute time: 36 minutes (1/2/3 subway to Fulton Street)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/520-W-110th-St-Apt-3A_New-York_NY_10025_M43721-27698?ex=NY596765773

Los Angeles, CA
Mean salary: $142,900
Combined income: $285,800
Max. home price: $1,488,900
Down payment: $297,780
Monthly payment: $8765

Shown here: 3 bed / 3 bath, Hollywood Hills
Commute time: 45 minutes (Red Line subway to Pershing Square)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/3600-Multiview-Dr_Los-Angeles_CA_90068_M21369-92258

Seattle, WA
Mean salary: $146,500
Combined income: $293,000
Max. home price: $1,530,700
Down payment: $306,140
Monthly payment: $9011

Shown here: 3 bed / 3 bath, Bainbridge Island
Commute time: 54 minutes (Ferry to Pioneer Square)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/244-Parfitt-Way-SW_Bainbridge-Island_WA_98110_M12519-05029

San Francisco, CA
Mean salary: $163,600
Combined income: $327,200
Max. home price: $1,729,200
Down payment: $345,830
Monthly payment: $10,179

Shown here: 3 bed / 3 bath, Delores Heights
Commute time: 22 minutes (BART subway to Union Square)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1183-Dolores-St_San-Francisco_CA_94110_M17400-30913

Portland, OR
Mean salary: $127,100
Combined income: $254,200
Max. home price: $1,305,500
Down payment: $261,100
Monthly payment: $7685

Shown here: 4 bed / 3.5 bath, Lake Oswego
Commute time: 30 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/15800-Oswego-Shore-Ct_Lake-Oswego_OR_97034_M27268-32184

Denver, CO
Mean salary: $142,300
Combined income: $284,600
Max. home price: $1,481,900
Down payment: $296,390
Monthly payment: $8724

Shown here: 4 bed / 5 bath, Morrison, CO
Commute time: 45 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/7181-S-Andrea-Ln_Morrison_CO_80465_M12542-16434

Minneapolis, MN
Mean salary: $189,200
Combined income: $378,400
Max. home price: $2,026,300
Down payment: $405,270
Monthly payment: $11,929

Shown here: 4 bed / 4.5 bath, Uptown
Commute time: 20 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/3125-E-Calhoun-Pkwy_Minneapolis_MN_55408_M78286-02307

Atlanta, GA
Mean salary: $123,300
Combined income: $246,600
Max. home price: $1,261,400
Down payment: $252,280
Monthly payment: $7426

Shown here: 4 bed / 4.5 bath, Randall Mill
Commute time: 20 minutes (drive to downtown)

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/3895-Beechwood-Dr-NW_Atlanta_GA_30327_M57618-88687?ex=GA625889386

 
Mar 20, 17 3:44 am

Biggest takeaways for me:

1) Minneapolis is the only city where your home, given these assumptions, breaks the $2M mark. Are architects really that well-paid there?

2) But in Philadelphia, you can buy an estate with a name, with seven fireplaces and a stable.

3) Asheville seems like a solid bet at each stage of your career if you can find a job there.

4) As for me, that place on Bainbridge Island looks like something worth striving for.

Mar 20, 17 3:52 am
geezertect

Fascinating thread as usual.  But, I think it would be more relevant if you had used only one income.  Arbitrarily jumping to a two-earner income scenario versus single income for mid-career is comparing apples and oranges.  A mid-career person would probably also be married at this point, and would have the spouse's income also being applied to the home purchase.

This isn't exactly on point, but any architect in the late years of their career who is leveraging to the max and also using the spouse's income for a home purchase needs his head examined.  By the time you are a managing partner you have gone through enough vicious downturns that you know how unreliable an architect's income is, and should be focused on paying off the house you bought as a mid-careerist.  JMHO.

Mar 20, 17 7:18 am
JeromeS

I think you're buying too much house...

tons of homes for a lot less money-

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/439-Loucroft-Rd_Haddonfield_NJ_08033_M66921-75988

And your commute is 30 minutes, not an hour

Mar 20, 17 8:35 am

The purpose of this thread was to show what's possible under the most optimistic scenario. Obviously it won't apply to every person.

As for me, I'd never want the debt burden or the maintenance responsibilities for a 5-bedroom suburban house. I don't want kids, and I'd be perfectly happy to live out my days in a 2-bedroom condo that would hopefully be paid off before I reach retirement age.

Mar 20, 17 9:59 am
Volunteer

David, Great fun. The Minneapolis house seems like it would suck both paychecks into the void in a heartbeat month after month for maintenance and repair. The pics of the bathroom seem to indicate a fireplace (?!) and the bathroom floor has already gone to Jesus. The bedroom pics scream "flip this house". One of the outside doors has a kitchen nook to one side and a potty on the other side? 115 year old huge wooden house in Minneapolis where a lot of the early residents built out of stone? Can't even imagine opening up the heating bill in winter. Might have to rethink that one.

Mar 20, 17 4:48 pm

Nice research David. 

A thousand square foot house in Tokyo is about 1.5 million dollars - architect designed and cool. I thought that was out of reach until I earned about 200K a year. Surprised it is more or about the same in america. Leaves me a bit frightened.

Including a spouse in the income calculation is interesting, something I haven't thought about in a while. I make a relatively good living in Tokyo but as is not so rare in Japan my wife earns about a fifth of what I do (although she is bloody amazing at her job). So we live like it's 1950 USA. Japan is not overtly sexist (well, not exactly), not like the movies or TV shows. But comparisons like this underline how much we are missing when it comes to opportunity.

Mar 20, 17 6:17 pm

I had to change three light bulbs today

Mar 20, 17 8:05 pm
gruen
My wife and I are close to what you describe, but those homes would be way out of our reach. Still, we have a great home in a great neighborhood.

How many mid career people have a 1.5 M home? Even my BIL (fancy NYC lawyer & doctor wife) didn't spend that much.
Mar 20, 17 8:57 pm
Volunteer

This recently sold for $763,000 (US Dollars) in Melbourne, Australia. Everybody knows there is a land shortage in.......Australia?

Mar 21, 17 8:39 am
Non Sequitur

Link to the realtor page? Maybe there is a basketball court below the house?

home_alone

Once again this has me wondering why stay in NYC.. I grew up here and have a very rare affordable housing situation. I don't know how other do it.

Mar 26, 17 9:31 pm
geezertect

When you look at how much more house you get for your money when you move to "flyover country" it's a wonder anybody stays in NYC, SF, etc.  I know they are supposed to be exciting, but Jesus..................

Mar 26, 17 9:57 pm

Block this user


Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: