For the second time in a week a national housing trade organization has shown that purchasing a home is now within the reach of a record number of Americans.  On Tuesday the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) published its affordability index indicating the purchasing power of American households had broken through 200 on its index for the first time in its history. 

Today the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo released their Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) which showed that 77.5 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter of 2012 were affordable to families earning the national median income.  This is up from 75.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

While NAR used a national median income of just under $61,000 the one used by the NAHB was $65,000, however each study primarily gauged affordability by measuring local home prices against local  prevailing incomes.  

"Homes in this year's first quarter were more affordable than they have been at any time in more than 20 years, yet many potential sales are not happening because of overly tight lending conditions that are keeping hardworking families from obtaining a suitable mortgage," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB. "Without this significant hurdle, the housing and economic recovery could be proceeding at a much stronger pace." 

The most affordable major housing market in the first quarter was Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., where 95.8 percent of homes sold during the period were affordable to households earning the area's median family income of $66,900.  Other major markets ranking high in affordability were Dayton, Ohio; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida and Modesto, California.  New York City and surrounding areas in New York and New Jersey ranked as least affordable for the 16th consecutive quarter.  Just 31.5 percent of homes sold during the quarter were affordable with the areas' median income of $68,200.  Other largely unaffordable areas were the San Francisco area, Honolulu, and Los Angeles.