Home Affordability Hits 18-Year High; Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall

Housing affordability is reaching record levels with nearly 73 percent of all homes sold in the first three months of 2009 considered affordable.That’s the highest percentage ever reported by the 18-year-old, quarterly Housing Opportunity Index, compiled by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Bank.

To be considered affordable, a family making the national median household income of $64,000 must be able to devote no more than 28 percent of their income toward housing costs.

The most affordable major metropolitan areas and their median home prices are:

Indianapolis: $98,000
Youngstown, Ohio: $67,000
Akron, Ohio: $78,000
Grand Rapids, Mich.: $97,000
Syracuse, N.Y.: $85,000
Warren, Mich.: $119,000
Cleveland: $86,000
Buffalo, N.Y.: $90,000
Toledo, Ohio: $78,000
Dayton, Ohio: $85,000

The 10 least affordable metropolitan areas are:

New York City: $418,000
San Francisco: $525,000
Los Angeles: $288,000
Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.: $375,000
Honolulu: $360,000
Santa Ana: Calif., $360,000
Newark, N.J.: $315,000
Miami: $185,000
McAllen, Tex.: $106,000
El Paso, Tex.: $127,000

Freddie Mac reports a drop in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.82 percent during the week ended May 21 from 4.86 percent the prior week. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate dipped to 4.5 percent.

The Federal Reserve is working to hold down rates by purchasing upwards of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $300 billion in Treasuries. Mortgage rate premiums have declined substantially over the last couple of months even as Treasury yields climbed.