The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home dropped to 23 percent in December, down 5 percentage points from the same period a year ago, according to a report released today by the California Association of Realtors.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $404,520 in California in December was $94,730, based on a typical 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5.82 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home was up from $81,290 in December 2002, when the median price of a home was $338,840 and the prevailing interest rate was 6.1 percent.

In contrast, the minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $173,200 in the United States in December 2003 was $40,560.

At 57 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable region in the state, followed by the Sacramento region at 36 percent. The Northern Wine Country and San Diego regions were the least affordable in the state at 15 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 135,000 members.

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