Housing affordability nationwide rose to a record high during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released in February. Nearly 76% of all new and existing homes sold during October, November and December 2011 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200 – the highest percentage recorded in the 20-year history of the index.
In Greenville SC, housing affordability was the highest since NAHB started measuring affordability in 1991, with 84.7 percent of area homes affordable to a family making the median income. Greenville is the 17th most affordable market in the country. It truly is a great time to buy a home with housing that has never been more affordable and mortgage interest rates at a record low.
The most affordable large metro in the country at the end of last year was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., where 95.1% of all homes sold during the quarter were within reach of households earning the area’s median family income of $54,900. Also ranking at the top of the affordability list this time around were Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL.; Modesto, CA; Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA.; and Toledo, OH, in that order.
Among smaller housing markets, Kokomo, IN, topped the list, with 99.2% of homes sold during the fourth quarter being affordable to families earning the median income of $59,100. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the affordability scale include Fairbanks, AL; Cumberland, MD-WV; Lima, OH; and Rockford, IL.
By contrast, New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ. retained its title as the least affordable major housing market during 2011’s final quarter, with just 29% of all homes sold being affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $67,400. This was the 15th consecutive quarter in which that metro has sunk to the bottom of the affordability chart. Other major metro areas near the bottom include Honolulu; San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA, respectively.
The least affordable small metro area in the fourth quarter of 2011 was Ocean City, NJ, where 47.5% of the homes were affordable to families earning the median income of $70,100. Other small metros near the bottom included Laredo, TX; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA.; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA; and Brownsville-Harlingen, TX.