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RISMEDIA, February 20, 2010—Nationwide housing affordability, bolstered by favorable interest rates and low house prices, closed out the year near its highest level since the series was first compiled 18 years ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).

The HOI showed that 70.8% of all new and existing homes sold in the final quarter of 2009 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, slightly higher than the previous quarter and near the record-high 72.5% set during the first quarter of 2009. Affordability during the final quarter of the year was up from 62.4% during the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Favorable mortgage rates and sliding house prices that have now started to stabilize nationally have both contributed to a record year for housing affordability in 2009,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “With interest rates still hovering at low levels and the economy beginning to rebound, the federal housing tax credit will encourage even more first-time and repeat home buyers to enter the market and help further stabilize housing and the economy by creating new jobs, stimulating home sales and reducing foreclosures.”

Indianapolis again was the most affordable major housing market in the country during the fourth quarter, a position the metro area now has held for four and a half years. More than 95% of all homes sold were affordable to households earning the area’s median family income of $68,100.

Also near the top of the list of the most affordable major metro housing markets were Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and Akron, Ohio.

Five smaller housing markets posted even higher affordability scores than Indianapolis, with Kokomo, Ind., which historically has had a favorable income-to-house price ratio, outscoring all others. In Kokomo, 98% of homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2009 were affordable to median-income earners. Other smaller housing markets near the top of the index included Monroe, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Lima, Ohio; and Bay City, Mich., respectively.

New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., continued to lead the nation as the least affordable major housing market during the fourth quarter of 2009. The New York metro area has occupied this position for seven consecutive quarters. Slightly less than 20% of all homes sold during the final quarter of 2009 were affordable to those earning the New York area’s median income of $64,800.

The other major metro areas near the bottom of the affordability scale included San Francisco; Honolulu; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Redwood City, Calif.

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. was the least affordable of the smaller metro housing markets in the country during the fourth quarter. Others near the bottom of the chart included Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; Ocean City, N.J.; Napa, Calif.; and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org.

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