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Housing affordability hits 10-year low

Syracuse, N.Y. continues to be most affordable, California dominates least affordable markets.

BY HBSDealer Staff

A combination of rising interest rates and escalating home prices have delivered housing affordability to a 10-year low in the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).

In total, 56.4% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $71,900. This is down from the 57.1% of homes sold in the second quarter that were affordable to median-income earners and the lowest reading since mid-2008.

“Continuing home price appreciation and rising interest rates coupled with persistent labor shortages are contributing to housing affordability concerns,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “Builders are increasingly focusing on managing home construction costs so that they do not outpace wage gains.

The national median home price edged up from $265,000 in the second quarter of 2018 to $268,000 in the third quarter. This is the highest quarterly median price in the history of the HOI series. At the same time, average mortgage rates rose by a nominal 5 basis points in the third quarter to 4.72% from 4.67% in the second quarter.

“Ongoing job and economic growth provide a solid backdrop for housing demand amid recent declines in affordability,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, housing affordability will need to stabilize to keep forward momentum from diminishing as we move into the new year.”

For the second straight quarter, Syracuse, N.Y., remained as the nation’s most affordable major housing market where 88.2% of all new and existing homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $74,100.

Kokomo, Ind., was rated the nation’s most affordable smaller market, with 93.2% of homes sold in the third quarter being affordable to families earning the median income of $64,100.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in order are Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.

Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the list included Elmira, N.Y.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; and Springfield, Ohio.

San Francisco, for the 4th straight quarter, was the nation’s least affordable major market. Just 6.4% of the homes sold in the third quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $116,400.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.

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