Home affordability plummets 21 percent in one year

Costs becoming 'dangerously disconnected' from incomes

Home affordability image via Shutterstock.Home affordability image via Shutterstock.

Many real estate analysts say that increases in home prices and mortgage rates have started to slow the housing recovery.

Now RealtyTrac has put a number on the toll those changes have taken on affordability. And it’s not pretty.

Twenty-one percent.

That’s how much the data aggregator says the monthly payment for a median-priced three-bedroom home purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013 increased from the year before.

The cost of owning a home is “becoming dangerously disconnected with still-stagnant median incomes,” as deep-pocketed investors — “who are not tethered to typical affordability constraints” — drive prices up to levels that many financed owner-occupant buyers cannot handle, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said in a statement.

“One simply needs to look at the minimum income needed to qualify for a median-priced home in some markets to realize the extent of the disconnect between prices and incomes,” he said. “For example, in Los Angeles County, the minimum qualifying income needed to purchase a median-priced home is at more than $95,000, up from about $68,000 just a year ago.”

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RealtyTrac’s monthly payment estimates assumed a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.46 percent in 2013, and a rate of 3.35 percent in 2012. In addition to mortgage costs, the estimates also factored in insurance, taxes, maintenance and the estimated income tax benefit.

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