74.6% of homes affordable to median-income households

By Inman News, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Housing affordability hit a new record high in the first quarter, surpassing the previous high set in fourth-quarter 2010, according to an index released by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo today.

The Housing Opportunity Index found that 74.6 percent of new and existing homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. That’s up from 73.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and it’s the highest level recorded in the more than 20 years the index has been measured.

“With interest rates remaining at historically low levels, today’s report indicates that homeownership is within reach of more households than it has been for more than two decades,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the NAHB, in a statement.

“While this is good news for consumers, homebuyers and builders continue to confront extremely tight credit conditions, and this remains a significant obstacle to many potential home sales.”

Before 2009, the index had never hit 70 percent and rarely topped 65 percent, the association said. Last quarter was the ninth straight quarter the index was above 70 percent.

Indiana, Ohio and Michigan dominated among the most affordable metro areas. Among metro areas with populations under 500,000, Kokomo, Ind., was the most affordable area, with 98.6 percent of homes affordable to households making a median income of $61,400. The median sales price in the area was $88,000 in the first quarter.

California dominated among the least affordable metro areas. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif., was the least affordable among the smaller metro areas with 47.6 percent of homes affordable to households making the median income of $72,500. The median sales price in the area was $320,000 in the first quarter.

Areas with population under 500,000 in 2009

       
  10 most affordable metro areas   10 least affordable metro areas
1. Kokomo, Ind. 1. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.
2. Monroe, Mich. 2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
3. Cumberland, Md.-W.Va. 2. Laredo, Texas
4. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. 4. Ocean City, N.J.
5. Springfield, Ohio 5. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.
6. Sandusky, Ohio 6. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas
7. Bay City, Mich. 7. Napa, Calif.
8. Rockford, Ill. 8. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, Wash.
9. Fairbanks, Ark. 9. Salinas, Calif.
10. Flint, Mich. 10. Santa Fe, N.M.

Source: NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index

Among metro areas with populations of 500,000 or more, Syracuse, N.Y., was the most affordable metro with 94.5 percent of homes affordable to households making the median income of $64,300. The median sales price in the area was $80,000 in the first quarter.

Another New York market, New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J, was the least affordable among both the larger metros and the markets overall for the 12th straight quarter. Less than a quarter of homes, 24.1 percent, were affordable to families making the median income of $65,600 in the first quarter. The median sales price of a home in the area was $425,000.


Areas with population of 500,000 or more in 2009

       
  10 most affordable metro areas
10 least affordable metro areas
       
1. Syracuse, N.Y. 1. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. ^^^
2. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa. 2. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. ^^^
3. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. 3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. ^^^
4. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. ^^^ 4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Toledo, Ohio 5. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. ^^^
6. Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla. 6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
7. Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. 7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
8. Akron, Ohio 8. Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. ^^^
9. Dayton, Ohio 9. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.
9. Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. ^^^ 10. El Paso, Texas

^^^  Indicate metropolitan divisions. All others are metropolitan statistical areas. Metro divisions are subdivisions of MSAs.

Source: NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index