Nationwide housing affordability slipped several notches as recovering markets witnessed significant firming of home prices in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released recently. In all, 69.3 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. This is down from the 73.7 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the first quarter, and the first time that the measure has fallen below 70 percent since late 2008.
“Housing affordability has been hovering near historic highs for the past several years, largely due to exceptionally favorable mortgage rates and low prices during the recession,” observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “Now that markets across the country are recovering, home values are strengthening at the same time that the cost of building homes is rising due to tightened supplies of building materials, developable lots and labor.”
“Rising home prices signal the improving health in housing markets, and the median price of all new and existing U.S. homes sold in this year’s second quarter, at $202,000, was well ahead of the second quarter 2012 median price of $185,000,” observed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Together with rising mortgage rates, this contributed to affordability slipping to the lowest level in more than four years. Such movement would be less concerning were it not for ongoing discussions regarding potential changes to the mortgage interest deduction and federal support for the secondary mortgage market, both of which play enormous roles in keeping homeownership affordable.”