Affordability Approaches Pre-2004 Norm as Prices Firm

BY PAUL EMRATH on 

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Housing affordability dipped slightly in the second quarter of 2014 as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).  Nationwide, the second quarter HOI was 62.6—i.e., 62.6 percent of new and existing homes sold during the quarter were affordable to a family earning the U.S. median income of $63,900—down about three percentage points from the first quarter reading of 65.5.

The latest readings reflect a slow but steady march toward historically normal appreciation and interest rates, producing an HOI typical of the period before the mid-2000s boom.  In the second quarter of 2014, the average mortgage interest rate declined to 4.44 percent (from 4.57 in the first quarter), while the national median home price increased from $195,000 to $214,000. (The HOI, of course, uses the full range of home sale prices, not just the median.)

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