Housing affordability rose to a record high during the fourth quarter of 2011, which means a home buyer’s purchasing power is greater than it ever has been before, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.
The index showed that 75.9 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, according to the index. That marks the highest percentage recorded in the index’s 20-year history.
“While today’s report indicates that home ownership 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,” says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
Most Affordable Cities
According to the index, the most affordable major housing market was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, in which 95 percent of all homes sold during the fourth quarter were affordable to households earning the median family income of $54,900, according to the index.
Other top affordable housing markets include: Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Phoenix, Arizona; Modesto, Calif.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Toledo, Ohio.
Least Affordable Cities
However, some metro areas still remain too pricey for buyers. The least affordable major housing market during the fourth quarter was New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., in which 29 percent of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the area’s media income of $67,400.
Other high-priced metro areas at the bottom of the affordability index include: Honolulu; San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.