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Builder Study Shows Signs of Stabilizing Affordability

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released recently its fourth-quarter Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), one in a string of recent analyses examining housing costs.

While most other reports have indicated a decline in Americans’ ability to pay for homes at the national median price ($205,000 as of Q4), NAHB’s latest index actually shows relative stability, with 64.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in Q4 classified as “affordable” to families earning the median income of $64,400.

That result is a slight step up from the index reading of 64.5 percent recorded in Q3.

“Housing affordability is stabilizing at a time when pent-up demand and ongoing job growth are helping housing markets across the nation to gradually strengthen,” said NAHB chairman Kevin Kelly.

While strengthening affordability is a positive sign, Kelly notes builders continue to face a number of challenges, “including tight credit for home buyers, inaccurate appraisals, and a shortage of workers and buildable lots.”

Among major markets, the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area in Ohio/Pennsylvania claimed the title of most affordable market, with 89.4 percent of homes sold last quarter fitting into the areas’ median household income of $53,900.

At the bottom (for the fifth consecutive quarter) sat California’s San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City metro area, where just 14.1 percent of home sold were affordable to families earning the median income of $101,200.

In the range of smaller markets, Kokomo, Indiana, was ranked most affordable, with 96.3 percent of homes sold in Q4 being affordable to those earning the median income of $60,100.

As with major markets, California ranked lowest in affordability. At the bottom was the Santa Cruz-Watsonville metro, where 18.6 percent of new and existing homes sold were affordable for the median income of $73,800. It was joined by Salina, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Napa, and Santa Rosa-Petaluma—all located in the Golden State.

 

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