Real Estate

'Affordable housing' slips across U.S. as prices rise

Median home prices jump between 1st-2nd quarters

Strengthening house prices in metropolitan areas across the country contributed to slightly lower housing affordability in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released this week.

The latest HOI data reveal that 73.8% of all new and existing homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $65,000. This is down from a record high 77.5% of homes that were affordable to median-income earners as of the first quarter, and is largely attributable to rising prices in metros across the country.

A full 92% of metros covered in the latest HOI saw their median home prices rise between the first and second quarter.

"While interest rates and overall housing affordability remain very favorable on a historic basis, the decline in the latest HOI is a positive development because it is another signal that the housing recovery is starting to take root, and it lends needed confidence to prospective buyers and sellers who have been reluctant to move forward in the current marketplace," said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla.

The most affordable major housing market in this year's second quarter was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., where 93.4% of homes sold during the period were affordable to households earning the area's median family income of $55,700.

Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Dayton, Ohio; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; and Modesto, Calif.

Among smaller housing markets, Fairbanks, Alaska, topped the affordability chart with 98.7% of homes sold during the second quarter being affordable to families earning the area's median income of $92,900. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index include Mansfield and Springfield, Ohio; Carson City, Nev.; and Kokomo, Ind.

Meanwhile, New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. retained the title of the least affordable major housing market in the country for a 17th consecutive quarter, with just 29.4% of homes sold there being affordable to families earning the area's median income of $68,300 as of the second quarter.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; in that order.

Ocean City, N.J., retained its title as the least affordable smaller housing market in the second quarter, with just 43.8% of homes sold in the second quarter affordable to families earning the median income of $71,100. Other small metros at the bottom of the list included San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; Dover, Del.; and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif., respectively.

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