New home under construction near New Orleans, LA–David M. Kinchen photo
The good news: Nationwide housing affordability hit a new record high for a second consecutive quarter in the first three months of this year, according to the recently released National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). The not-so-good news: Tight lending conditions continue to pose a major obstacle to many prospective home buyers.
The latest HOI data reveal that 77.5 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold in this year’s first quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $65,000. This beats the previous record set in the final quarter of 2011, when 75.9 percent of homes sold were affordable to median-income earners.
“Homes in this year’s first quarter were more affordable than they have been at any time in more than 20 years, yet many potential sales are not happening because of overly tight lending conditions that are keeping hardworking families from obtaining a suitable mortgage,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “Without this significant hurdle, the housing and economic recovery could be proceeding at a much stronger pace.”
The most affordable major housing market in this year’s first quarter was Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., where 95.8 percent of homes sold during the period were affordable to households earning the area’s median family income of $66,900.
Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Dayton, Ohio; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Modesto, Calif.; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.; and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; the latter two of which tied for fifth place.
Among smaller housing markets, Cumberland, Md.-W.Va. topped the affordability chart for the first time in this year’s first quarter. There, 99 percent of homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,000. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index include Fairbanks, Alaska; Wheeling, W.Va.; Kokomo, Ind.; and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill., respectively.
In New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., which retained the title of the least affordable major housing market for a 16th consecutive quarter, just 31.5 percent of homes sold in the first three months of this year were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $68,200.
Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Honolulu; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; and Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif., respectively.
Ocean City, N.J., was the least affordable smaller housing market on the list, with 45.9 percent of homes sold in the first quarter affordable to families earning the median income of $71,100. Other small metros at the bottom of the list included Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.; and Laredo, Texas.
Editor’s Note: Visit www.nahb.org/hoi for tables, historic data and details.