Home Affordability Hits 10-Year Low in U.S.

According to the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, rising U.S. home prices and interest rates pushed housing affordability to a 10-year low in the second quarter of 2018.

In all, 57.1 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $71,900. This is down from the 61.6 percent of homes sold in the first quarter that were affordable to median-income earners and the lowest reading since mid-2008.

The national median home price jumped from $252,000 in the first quarter of 2018 to $265,000 in the second quarter–the highest quarterly median price in the history of the HOI series. At the same time, average mortgage rates jumped by more than 30 basis points in the second quarter to 4.67 percent from 4.34 percent in the first quarter.

“Tight inventory conditions and rising construction costs are factors that are holding back housing and putting upward pressure on home prices,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “Meanwhile, tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. are further eroding housing affordability. Builders are struggling to manage these costs to ensure pricing does not outpace expected gains in wage growth.”

“Rising household formations, along with a strong economic expansion in the second quarter that has fueled job growth, will support housing demand in the second half of 2018,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, growing trade war concerns and the expectation of higher mortgage rates are additional headwinds negatively affecting housing affordability.” 

Syracuse, N.Y., was the nation’s most affordable major housing market. There, 89.1 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $74,100. Meanwhile, the nation’s most affordable smaller market was also located in the Empire State. In Elmira, N.Y., 97 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the median income of $71,000.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa; Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; and Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.

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Smaller markets joining Elmira at the top of the list included Kokomo, Ind.; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.; Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; and Wheeling, W.Va.-Ohio.

San Francisco, for the third straight quarter, was the nation’s least affordable major market. There, just 5.5 percent of the homes sold in the second quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $119,600.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles,-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.

All five least affordable small housing markets were also in the Golden State. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Salinas, where 9.8 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $69,100.

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In descending order, other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Santa Cruz-Watsonville; Napa; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande; and San Rafael. 

Denver Edition | By Monsef Rachid

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