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Housing Affordability Shows Improvement in August

According to the Housing Affordability Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in August, affordability improved, as the monthly mortgage payment fell by 1.1%, while the median family income fell modestly by 0.7% compared to July 2021’s totals.

NAR Research Data Specialist Michael Hyman found that, year-over-year, affordability declined in August, as the median family income rose by 3.9%, while the monthly mortgage payment increased 13.9%. The effective 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 2.89% this August compared to 3% just one year ago, and the median existing-home sales price rose 15.6% from one year ago.

Housing affordability declined from a year ago in all the four regions, with the Northeast experiencing the biggest decline of 10.7%. The Southern Region experienced a weakening in price growth compared to a year ago of 7.1%, followed by the West with a dip of 4.9%. The Midwest had the smallest decrease of 4.8%.

“Housing affordability was up modestly in all four regions from last month, except in the West where there was no change,” said Hyman. “The South had the biggest gain of 0.4% followed by the Midwest, which rose 0.3%. The Northeast region had the smallest increase of 0.2%.”

The most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 196.8 (median family income of $86,614 with the qualifying income of $44,016). The least affordable region remained the West, where the index was 114.9 (median family income of $94,372 and the qualifying income of $82,128). The South was the second most affordable region with an index of 160.6 (median family income of $80,180 and the qualifying income of $49,920) The Northeast was the second most unaffordable region with an index of 149.1 (median family income of $99,286 with a qualifying income of $66,576).

Compared to one year ago, the monthly mortgage payment rose to $1,210 from $1,062, an increase of 13.9%, The annual mortgage payment as a percentage of income increased to 16.5% this August from 15.1% from a year ago due to higher home prices and only modest gains in median family incomes. Regionally, the West has the highest mortgage payment to income share at 21.8 % of income. The Northeast had the second highest share at 16.8% followed by the South with their share at 15.6%. The Midwest had the lowest mortgage payment as a percentage of income at 12.7%. Mortgage payments are not burdensome if they are no more than 25% of income.

Click here for more on NAR’s August Housing Affordability Index.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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