About two-thirds of the homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2013 are considered "affordable" according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).  NAHB said on Thursday that the HOI held steady in the fourth quarter at 64.7 percent, virtually the same as the 64.5 percent recorded in the previous quarter.

The HOI is based on the number of home sold during the quarter that would be affordable to families earning the median income of $64,400 assuming a 20 percent down payment.  The national median home price dipped to $205,000 in the fourth quarter from $211,000 in the third, while average mortgage interest rates rose from 4.45 percent to 4.54 percent.

"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, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.  "While this bodes well for housing in 2014, builders continue to face challenges, including tight credit for home buyers, inaccurate appraisals, and a shortage of workers and buildable lots."

The most affordable major housing market was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania where 89.4 percent of homes were affordable to those with the area's median income of $53,900.  The least affordable major market for the fifth consecutive quarter was San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City.  There only 14.1 percent of new and existing homes sold were affordable to those with the local median income of $101,200.

Kokomo, Indiana was the most affordable smaller market; 96.3 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to those earning the median income of $60,100.  All of the five least affordable small housing markets were in California with the least affordable being Santa Cruz-Watsonville.  There 18.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold during the quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $73,800.