More Californians could afford to purchase a home in the first quarter of 2019 as lower mortgage interest rates and cooler seasonal home prices combined with higher income levels to improve California housing affordability, the Arcadia Association of Realtors said today.
The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in first-quarter 2019 rose to 32% from 28% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and from 31% in the first quarter a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors Traditional Housing Affordability Index (HAI). The index climbed above 30% for the first time in a year. California’s housing affordability index hit a peak of 56% in the first 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 $114,860 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $545,820 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the first quarter of 2019. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $2,870, assuming a 20% down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.62%. The effective composite interest rate was 4.95% in fourth-quarter 2018 and 4.44% in first-quarter 2018.
Housing affordability for condominiums and townhomes also improved in first-quarter 2019 compared to the previous quarter, with 41% of California households earning the minimum income to qualify for the purchase of a $450,000 median-priced condominium/townhome, up from 37% in the previous quarter. An annual income of $94,690 was required to make monthly payments of $2,370. Thirty-nine percent of households could afford to buy a condominium/townhome a year ago.
Compared with California, more than half of the nation’s households (57%) could afford to purchase a $254,800 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $53,620 to make monthly payments of $1,340.