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Housing Affordability Drops as House Prices and Interest Rates Rise

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Housing Affordability Drops as House Prices and Interest Rates Rise

 

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Strengthening house prices and increased interest rates in metro areas across the country contributed to lower housing affordability in the third quarter, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released on Nov. 14. In all, 64.5% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and the end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. This is down from the 69.3% of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the second quarter, and is the largest HOI decline since the second quarter of 2004.

“Housing affordability is being negatively affected by a ‘perfect storm’ scenario,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson. “With markets across the country recovering, home values are strengthening at the same time that the cost of building homes is rising due to tightened supplies of building materials, developable lots and labor.”

“The decline in affordability is the result of higher mortgage rates and the more than year-long steady increase in home prices,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While affordability has come down from the peak in early 2012, the index still means a family earning a median income can afford 65% of homes recently sold. Some of the decline in the affordability index could also be the result of a loss in some more modestly priced home sales as tight underwriting standards have limited purchases by moderate-income families.”

Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., and Syracuse, N.Y. were tied as the nation’s most affordable major housing markets as 93.3% of all new and existing homes sold in this year’s third quarter were affordable to families earning the areas’ median incomes of $65,100 and $65,800, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kokomo, Ind., claimed the title of most affordable smaller market, with 96.9% of homes sold in the third quarter being affordable to those earning the median income of $60,100.

For a fourth consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. held the lowest spot among major markets on the affordability chart. There, just 16% of homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $101,200.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif. was the nation's least affordable small market; only 20.3% of all new and existing homes sold there in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $73,800. Please visit nahb.org/hoi for tables, historic data and details.

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  • Joanne Loftus
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