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Worsening Affordability Reaches 8-Year Low

Housing affordability worsened in the first quarter of 2017, with 95 out of the 379 counties analyzed in the ATTOM Data Solutions Q1 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index below “normal” affordability levels.

On a national scale, the Index was 103—an eight-year low. An Index reading below 100 indicates the amount of wages needed to afford a median-priced home is above the historic average for the market in question.

Wages, still, have improved in some markets. In 53 percent of the counties analyzed for the Index, annual wage growth bested home price growth—the highest percentage since the first quarter of 2012.

“Home affordability continued to worsen in the first quarter—not surprising given the continued strong growth in home prices combined with the recent rise in mortgage rates,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Stronger wage growth is the silver lining in this report, outpacing home price growth in more than half of the markets for the first time since Q1 2012, when median home prices were still falling nationwide. If that pattern continues, it will help turn the tide in the eroding home affordability trend.”

In 12 of the counties analyzed, less than 15 percent of wages were needed to afford a median-priced home. These counties include Clayton County, Ga. (10.8 percent), Baltimore County, Md. (11.8 percent), Bibb County, Ga. (12.2 percent), Saginaw County, Mich. (12.4 percent) and Trumbull County, Ohio (12.5 percent).

In 97 of the counties analyzed, however, more than 43 percent of wages were needed to afford a median-priced home—and according to guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 43 percent is the maximum debt-to-income-ratio allowed for a “qualified mortgage.” These counties include Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino, Calif., and Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, New York (Manhattan) and Bronx, N.Y. In Kings County and New York County, over 100 percent of wages are needed to afford a median-priced home.

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

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