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California Home Affordability Issue Continues to Grow

California Home Affordability Issue Continues to Grow


Median home price in California hits $608,660 in Q2

According to the California Association of Realtors, higher home prices negated low interest rates and further reduced Californians' ability to purchase a home in the second quarter of 2019.

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in second-quarter 2019 dipped to 30 percent from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2019 but was up from 26 percent in the second 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 second 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 homebuyers in the state.

A minimum annual income of $122,960 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $608,660 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the second quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,070, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.17 percent. The effective composite interest rate was 4.62 percent in first-quarter 2019 and 4.70 percent in second-quarter 2018.

Housing affordability for condominiums and townhomes also slipped in first-quarter 2019 compared to the previous quarter, with 40 percent of California households earning the minimum income to qualify for the purchase of a $475,000 median-priced condominium/townhome, down from 41 percent in the previous quarter. An annual income of $95,960 was required to make monthly payments of $2,400. 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 (55 percent) could afford to purchase a $279,600 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $56,480 to make monthly payments of $1,410.

Key points from the second-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 second-quarter 2018 in every county. San Francisco County was the least affordable, with just 17 percent of households able to purchase the $1,700,000 median-priced home. Forty-six percent of Solano County households could afford the $445,000 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 (24 percent) and San Bernardino County being the most affordable (50 percent).
  • In the Central Valley region, only Kern County experienced a decline in affordability from a year ago, decreasing from 53 percent in second-quarter 2018 to 50 percent in second-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 was unchanged in one, Santa Barbara.
  • During the second quarter of 2019, the most affordable counties in California were Lassen (63 percent), Kings (55 percent) and Madera (51 percent). The minimum annual income needed to qualify for a home in these counties was less than $60,000.
  • Mono (15 percent), San Francisco (17 percent), Santa Cruz (17 percent) and San Mateo (18 percent) counties were the least affordable areas in the state. San Francisco and San Mateo counties required the highest minimum qualifying incomes in the state. An annual income of $343,420 was needed to purchase a home in San Francisco County, and an annual income of $338,870 was required in San Mateo County.


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