The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in fourth-quarter 2019 was unchanged from the third quarter of 2019 at 31 percent but was up from 28 percent in the fourth quarter a year ago, the California Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
California’s housing affordability index hit a peak of 56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, CAR said in a statement. C.A.R.’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California. The index is considered the most fundamental measure of housing well-being for home buyers in the state.
A minimum annual income of $119,600 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $607,040 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the fourth quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $2,990, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 3.89 percent. The effective composite interest rate was 3.85 percent in third-quarter 2019 and 4.95 percent a year ago.
Housing affordability for condominiums and townhomes also improved from a year ago but decreased compared to the third quarter of 2019 because of higher median condominium prices. Forty-one percent of California households earned the minimum income to qualify for the purchase of a $480,000 median-priced condominium/townhome, down from 43 percent in the previous quarter. An annual income of $94,400 was required to make monthly payments of $2,360. Thirty-seven percent of households could afford to buy a condominium/townhome a year ago.
Compared with California, more than half of the nation’s households (57 percent) could afford to purchase a $274,900 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $54,000 to make monthly payments of $1,350, CAR said.
Key points from the fourth-quarter 2019 Housing Affordability report include: When compared to a year ago, housing affordability improved in 44 tracked counties and declined in four counties. Affordability remained flat in one county. In the San Francisco Bay Area, affordability improved from fourth-quarter 2018 in every county.
San Francisco County was the least affordable, with just 18 percent of households able to purchase the $1,600,000 median-priced home. Forty-seven percent of Solano County households could afford the $460,000 median-priced home, making it the most affordable Bay Area county.
Affordability also improved in all Southern California regions, with Orange County being the least affordable (26 percent) and San Bernardino County being the most affordable (51 percent).
All counties in the Central Valley region experienced an increase in affordability from a year ago. San Benito County (34 percent) was the least affordable and Kings County (55 percent) was the most affordable. Housing affordability improved in three of four counties in the Central Coast region with Santa Cruz experiencing the biggest improvement in affordability — jumping to 21 percent in fourth-quarter 2019 from 12 percent a year ago.
Santa Barbara County was the only county in the region with a year-over-year decline in affordability, with the index dipping to 23 percent in fourth-quarter 2019 from 26 percent a year ago. During the fourth quarter of 2019, the most affordable counties in California were Lassen (63 percent), Kings (55 percent) and Tulare and Plumas (52 percent).
The minimum annual income needed to qualify for a home in these counties was less than $54,000. San Francisco (18 percent), San Mateo (20 percent) and Santa Cruz (21 percent) counties were the least affordable areas in the state. San Francisco County required the highest minimum qualifying income in the entire state. An annual income of $314,800 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County. San Mateo County also required an annual income exceeding $300,000 to purchase a median-priced home.
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