The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability

The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability | Simplifying The Market

There have been many headlines decrying an “affordability crisis” in the residential real estate market. While it is true that buying a home is less affordable than it had been over the last ten years, we need to understand why and what that means.

On a monthly basis, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), produces a Housing Affordability Index. According to NAR, the index…

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here is a graph of the index going back to 1990:

The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability | Simplifying The Market

It is true that the index is lower today than any year from 2009 to 2017. However, we must realize the main reason homes were more affordable. That period of time immediately followed a housing crash and there were large numbers of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). Those properties were sold at large discounts.

Today, the index is higher than any year from 1990 to 2008. Based on historic home affordability data, that means homes are more affordable right now than any other time besides the time following the housing crisis.

With mortgage rates remaining low and wages finally increasing, we can see that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to purchase a home today than it was last year!

Bottom Line

With wages increasing, price appreciation moderating, and mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, purchasing a home is a great move based on historic affordability numbers.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

About the Author
Richard Wamsat is an author, a deep thinker, and master of home sales. He lives in Irvine, California with his wife Brandy and a fluffy white dog named Murphy. His knowledge of real estate spans two decades having purchased his first home at the age of 19. He has worked in both Northern California and Southern California markets and has fought with banks to save client's homes or get relief from underwater mortgages during the Great Recession. Richard is a licensed real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - CalRE#01345167. He has earned the designation of Master Certified Negotiation Expert from The Real Estate Negotiation Institute, a member of the Harvard Program on Negotiation. Connect with Richard on Twitter @rwamsat, or on his website https://ocluxehomes.com