U.S. home prices at least affordable level since Q3 2008
The report calculates an affordability index based on percentage of income needed to buy a median-priced home relative to historic averages, with an index above 100 indicating median home prices are more affordable than the historic average, and an index below 100 indicating median home prices are less affordable than the historic average.
Nationwide, the Q2 2018 home affordability index of 95 was down from an index of 102 in the previous quarter and an index of 103 in Q2 2017 to the lowest level since Q3 2008, when the index was 86.
Nationwide the median home price of $245,000 in Q2 2018 was up 4.7 percent from a year, down from 7.4 percent appreciation in the first quarter but still above the average weekly wage growth of 3.3 percent.
Since bottoming out in Q1 2012, median home prices nationwide have increased 75 percent while average weekly wages have increased 13 percent during the same period.
Annual growth in median home prices outpaced average wage growth in 275 of the 432 counties analyzed in the report (64 percent), including Los Angeles County, California; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; Orange County, California; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Counties with the lowest home affordability indexes in Q2 2018 were Genesee County (Flint), Michigan (70); Denver County, Colorado (72); Adams County (Denver area), Colorado (73); Santa Fe County, New Mexico (73); and Wilson County (Nashville area), Tennessee (75).
Among 40 counties with a population of at least 1 million, those with the lowest home affordability indexes in Q2 2018 were Travis County (Austin), Texas (77); Alameda County (San Francisco area), California (81); Santa Clara County (San Jose), California (82); Oakland County (Detroit area), Michigan (82); and San Francisco County, California (83).
Nationwide an average wage earner would need to spend 31.2 percent of his or her income to buy a median-priced home in Q2 2018, above the historic average of 29.6 percent.
Counties with median home prices requiring the highest share of average wage earner income were Marin County (San Francisco area), California (133.2 percent); Kings County (Brooklyn), New York (123.1 percent); Santa Cruz County, California (121.5 percent); Monterey County (Salinas), California (100.3 percent); and San Francisco County, California (97.2 percent).
Counties with median home prices requiring the lowest share of average wage earner income were Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan (13.5 percent); Clayton County, Georgia (13.7 percent); Rock Island (Quad Cities), Illinois (15.8 percent); Saginaw County, Michigan (16.4 percent); and Richmond County (Augusta), Georgia (16.4 percent).
An average wage earner would not qualify to buy a median-priced home in 326 of the 432 counties (75 percent) analyzed in the report based on a 3 percent down payment and a maximum front-end debt-to-income ratio of 28 percent.
Counties where an average wage earner could not afford to buy a median-priced home in Q2 2018 included Los Angeles County, California; Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; and Orange County, California. ■