While housing is more affordable than ever for most
U.S. families, the lack of financing available to them continues to constrain
prospective homebuyers according to the most recent National Association of
Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released on
Thursday. The Index indicates that 75.9
percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter were within
the financial reach of families earning the national median income of
$64,200. This is the highest number for
the affordability index in its 20 year history.
HOI measures the percentage of homes sold in a given
area that could be purchased by households earning that area's median income at
current mortgage interest rates and assuming a 20 percent down payment.
"While today's report indicates that homeownership is within reach of more
households than it has been for more than two decades, overly restrictive
lending conditions confronting home buyers and builders remain significant
obstacles to many potential homes sales, even with interest rates at
historically low levels," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of NAHB.
The metropolitan area encompassing Youngstown Ohio
and Boardman, Pennsylvania was the most affordable major housing market in the
country with 95.1 percent of all homes sold during the quarter affordable under
the NAHB definition. The area's median
income is $54,900. Other major MSAs
ranking at the top in affordability are Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida;
Modesto, California; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio.
The most affordable small housing market was Kokomo, Indiana where 99.2 percent
of homes were affordable to families earning the median income of $59,100.
Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index included Fairbanks, Alaska;
Cumberland, Maryland; Lima, Ohio; and Rockford, Illinois.
Only 29.0 percent of homes in the New York-White Plain area were affordable to
those with the area's median income of $67,400.
This was the 15th consecutive quarter that this MSA ranked
last in affordability. Other major metro
area at the bottom of the affordability index included Honolulu and three
California MSAs, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine;
and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale.
The least affordable small market was Ocean City,
New Jersey where, with a median income of $70,100 only 47.5 percent of homes
were deemed affordable. It was followed
by Laredo, Texas, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, and Santa Cruz-Watsonville,
California; and Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas.