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Is Home Affordability at Breaking Point?

Home affordabilityThe combination of steadily increasing home prices and rising interest rates has impacted home affordability by pushing up the monthly mortgage payment on median-priced homes by $150/month in just the first five months of 2018, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor Report released by Black Knight on Monday.

The monthly report, which looks at a variety of issues related to the mortgage finance and housing industry looked at the share of median income required to buy a median-priced home, while also exploring potential scenarios of home price appreciation, interest rate movement, and income growth to calculate their impact on home affordability over the next five years.

It found that even with incomes growing at a stronger-than-average rate, they haven’t been able to keep up with rising home prices and interest rates. Of all the states examined by the report, seven were less affordable than others and another 12 were heading up on the unaffordability index, the report said.

The seven states included Washington, D.C. that required 7 percent more of median income to make a monthly mortgage payment. Second on the list was California with a 6 percent increase, followed by Hawaii (5 percent); Oregon (3.5 percent); Maine (2.4 percent); Washington (0.7 percent); and Colorado (0.1 percent). It found that led by Washington, D.C., 14 states had a payment-to-income ratio higher than the national average of 23 percent.

“Though much of the country remains more affordable than long-term norms, the current trajectory would change that sooner rather than later,” said Ben Graboske, EVP of Black Knight’s Data & Analytics division. “We’ve modeled out multiple economic scenarios, some more conservative than others, and even with historically strong income growth, the current combination of home price and interest rate increases isn’t sustainable.”

Black Knight looked at multiple potential economic scenarios to get a sense of where affordability could be heading over the next five years and found that at the current pace of increases, affordability was an unsustainable prospect.

In the first scenario, Black Knight assumed that incomes continued to see strong growth, home prices kept rising at the current rate and interest rates rose by 50 basis points/year. With these numbers, the study found that in five years, home affordability would hit an all-time low.

For the second scenario, it was assumed that incomes remained strong, rates rose by 50 basis points/year, and home price growth decelerated to its 25-year average of 3.75 percent/year. Even with slower home price increase, Black Knight found that in five years it would take 30 percent of median income to make the monthly mortgage payment.

However, in the third scenario where home price appreciation slowed to 3.75 percent, interest rate increases were capped at 25 basis points/year and incomes remained strong, Black Knight found a more sustainable scenario emerging over the long run with national home affordability levels gradually rising to long-term averages in five years.

To read the mortgage monitor’s first look at delinquency rates, click here.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Dallas, Texas. You can contact her at Radhika.Ojha@theMReport.com.
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