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published on February 11, 2016 - 5:28 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Lower interest rates and level home prices combined to perk up California housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the previous quarter, according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors (CAR).


But the report also found that across the Golden State, affordability was actually down when compared to the previous year.

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in fourth-quarter 2015 ticked up to 30 percent from the 29 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2015 but was down from 31 percent in fourth-quarter 2014, according to CAR’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index (HAI).

Across the Valley, housing affordability was higher than in many other parts of the state, according to CAR. Fresno County registered 49, Tulare County came in at 54, Madera County tallied 48 and Kings County reported the highest affordability score at 61.

Median home prices around the Valley in Q4, according to the CAR report, were also significantly below prices in other parts of the state. Fresno County’s median home price was $219,960. Madera County’s median home price was $220,830. Tulare County’s median home price was $189,300. And the median home price during Q4 2015 in Kings County was $190,970.

This is the 11th consecutive quarter that the CAR index has been below 40 percent statewide and the index is near the mid-2008 low level of 29 percent.  California’s housing affordability index hit a peak of 56 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

CAR’s HAI measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in California. CAR 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.

Home buyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $96,640 to qualify for the purchase of a $483,050 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the fourth quarter of 2015. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $2,420, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.07 percent. The effective composite interest rate in third-quarter 2015 was 4.16 percent and 4.20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The median home price was $488,540 in third-quarter 2015, and an annual income of $98,580 was needed to purchase a home at that price.


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