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3rd Quarter Housing Affordability Report

Cheaper mortgages and income growth improve housing affordability in third quarter, C.A.R. reports

  • Thirty-one percent of California households could afford to purchase the $613,470 median-priced home in the third quarter of 2019, up from 30 percent in second-quarter 2019 and up from 27 percent a year ago.
  • A minimum annual income of $120,400 was needed to make monthly payments of $3,010, including principal, interest and taxes on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at a 3.85 percent interest rate.
  • Forty-three percent of home buyers were able to purchase the $465,000 median-priced condo or townhome. An annual income of $91,200 was required to make a monthly payment of $2,280.

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 7) – A lower cost of borrowing and higher income levels allowed more Californians to afford a home purchase during the third quarter of 2019, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (C.A.R.) said today.

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in third-quarter 2019 edged up to 31 percent from 30 percent in the second quarter of 2019 and up from 27 percent in the third quarter a year ago, according to C.A.R.’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index (HAI). California’s housing affordability index hit a peak of 56 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

C.A.R.’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California. C.A.R. also reports affordability indices for regions and select counties within the state. The index is considered the most fundamental measure of housing well-being for home buyers in the state.

A minimum annual income of $120,400 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $613,470 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the third quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,010, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 3.85 percent, the lowest rate since third-quarter 2016. The effective composite interest rate was 4.17 percent in second-quarter 2019 and 4.77 percent a year ago.

Housing affordability for condominiums and townhomes also improved in the third-quarter 2019 compared to the previous quarter, with 43 percent of California households earning the minimum income to qualify for the purchase of a $465,000 median-priced condominium/townhome, up from 40 percent in the previous quarter. An annual income of $91,200 was required to make monthly payments of $2,280. Thirty-six percent of households could afford to buy a condominium/townhome a year ago.

Compared with California, more than half of the nation’s households (56 percent) could afford to purchase a $280,020 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $54,800 to make monthly payments of $1,370.

Key points from the third-quarter 2019 Housing Affordability report include:

  • When compared to a year ago, housing affordability improved in 42 tracked counties and declined in five counties. Affordability remained flat in one county.
  • In the San Francisco Bay Area, affordability improved from third-quarter 2018 in every county. San Francisco County was the least affordable, with just 18 percent of households able to purchase the $1,580,000 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 Los Angeles and Orange counties tied for being the least affordable (25 percent) and San Bernardino County being the most affordable (51 percent).
  • In the Central Valley region, only Kern County experienced a decline in affordability from a year ago, decreasing from 53 percent in third-quarter 2018 to 51 percent in third-quarter 2019. San Benito County (35 percent) was the least affordable and Kings County (55 percent) was the most affordable.
  • Housing affordability improved in three counties in the Central Coast region — Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz — and declined in Santa Barbara.
  • During the third quarter of 2019, the most affordable counties in California were Lassen (64 percent), Kings (55 percent) and Madera (52 percent). The minimum annual income needed to qualify for a home in these counties was less than $56,000.
  • Mono (17 percent), San Francisco (18 percent), and San Mateo (20 percent) counties were the least affordable areas in the state. San Francisco required the highest minimum qualifying income in the entire state. An annual income of $309,600 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County, though down from $343,240 in second-quarter 2019.

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