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Higher home prices reduce California housing affordability

By
From page C23 | August 17, 2012 |

Higher home prices offset record-low interest rates and lowered housing affordability in California in the second quarter of 2012, the California Association of Realtors recently reported.

The percentage of homebuyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California fell to 51 percent in the second quarter of 2012, down from 56 percent in first-quarter 2012, but matched the 51 percent recorded in second quarter 2011, according to CAR’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index.

CAR’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California. CAR also reports affordability indices for regions and select counties within the state. The Index is considered the most fundamental measure of housing well-being for homebuyers in the state.

Homebuyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $62,390 to qualify for the purchase of a $316,230 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the second quarter of 2012. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $1,560, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 3.92 percent.  The effective composite interest rate in first-quarter 2012 was 4.16 percent and 4.85 percent in the second quarter of 2011.

The San Francisco Bay Area experienced the largest quarterly declines in housing affordability, resulting from double-digit price increases with little movement in the interest rate.  However, when compared with the previous year, changes to the affordability index were minimal, thanks to a near-one percent drop in the effective composite interest rate.

At an index of 78 percent, San Bernardino County was the most affordable county of the state. At the other end, San Mateo County edged out San Francisco County (24 percent) to be the least affordable, with only 23 percent of households able to purchase the county’s median-priced home.

CAR is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. It is headquartered in Los Angeles.

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