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Rising home prices push down housing affordability

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From page HS6 | November 15, 2013 | Leave Comment

LOS ANGELES — Housing affordability fell for the sixth consecutive quarter, after reaching an all-time high in the spring of 2012, as significantly higher home prices shut out more California home buyers during the third quarter of 2013, 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 dropped to 32 percent in the third quarter of 2013, down from 36 percent in first-quarter 2013 and from 49 percent in third-quarter 2012, according to CAR’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index. The third quarter 2013 figure fell below 35 percent for the first time since the third quarter of 2008.

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 home buyers in the state.

Homebuyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $89,170 to qualify for the purchase of a $433,940 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the third quarter of 2013. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $2,230, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.36 percent. The effective composite interest rate in second-quarter 2013 was 3.64 percent and 3.72 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

The median home price was $339,930 in third-quarter 2012, and an annual income of $65,828 was needed to purchase a home at that price.

California housing affordability hit a record high of 56 percent in first quarter of 2012. Since then, a lack of housing supply and high demand have driven up home prices sharply and significantly reduced affordability.

Nearly every county experienced a double-digit decline in affordability when compared to last year, reflecting the substantial increase in California home prices on a year-to-year basis. Sacramento, Monterey, and Sonoma counties experienced the largest year-to-year declines, while San Mateo, Marin, and San Francisco counties experienced the smallest year-to-year declines.

At an index of 64 percent, San Bernardino County was the most affordable county of the state, while San Mateo County was the least affordable at 15 percent.

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