Housing affordability dips but purchases still within reach of a majority

Housing affordability dipped slightly in the second quarter as prices firmed up in several markets, but home purchases still remained within reach for a majority of people. 

In all, 62.6 percent of new and existing homes sold from April through June were affordable for families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900.

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That is down from the 65.5 percent during the January-March period, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) showed on Thursday.  

"The second quarter HOI reflects the slow but steady march toward the historic levels of price appreciation and interest rates that result in affordability levels we experienced before the mid-2000s boom," said David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist. 

"While we are seeing a slight decrease in affordability, it is still fairly high by historical standards."

Meanwhile, the national median home price increased to $214,000 in the second quarter from $195,000 during the first three months of the year.

At the same time, mortgage interest rates decreased to 4.44 percent from 4.57 percent.

A separate report on Thursday showed that 30-year mortgage rates declined this week to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent last week, falling near the lowest levels of the year, according to Freddie Mac.

"With interest rates near historically low levels and strengthening job growth, now continues to be a great opportunity to buy a home," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., claimed the title of the nation's most affordable major housing market, as 90.4 percent of all new and existing homes sold in second quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $52,700.

Meanwhile, Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., was the most affordable smaller market, with 97.2 percent of homes sold in the second quarter being affordable to those earning the median income of $54,100.

Other major housing markets at the top of the affordability chart included Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; in descending order.

Meanwhile, smaller markets joining Cumberland at the top of the affordability chart included Kokomo, Ind.; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.; Battle Creek, Mich.; and Lima, Ohio; in descending order.

For a seventh consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., was the nation's least affordable major housing market.

There, only 11.1 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $100,400.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; and New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.

All five of the least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 16.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $77,900.

Other small markets included Napa, Salinas, Santa Rosa-Petaluma, and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles.