Home prices continue to rise faster than income in California, and 24 percent of households in the state could afford a median-priced home in February, compared with 30 percent in February 2003, the California Association of Realtors reported this week. In January, about 23 percent of households in the state could afford a median-priced home.

 

With median-priced homes fetching $394,300, the minimum income needed to purchase a home in February was $91,690, based on a typical 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5.74 percent and a 20 percent down payment, according to association data. In February 2003, a minimum household income of $77,220 was required to buy a median-priced home, which then cost $326,640 with a prevailing interest rate of 5.93 percent.

 

Meanwhile, about 34 percent of households in California could afford a median-priced condominium in February, compared with 41 percent in February 2003. In Contra Costa County, only 10 percent of households could afford a median-priced home in February, while 12 percent of San Francisco County households can afford a median-priced home.

 

Major swings in regional affordability were recorded in the High Desert, Los Angeles and Ventura areas, where the housing affordability index dropped 10 or more points from February 2003 to February 2004. In the Los Angeles area, 22 percent of households could afford a median-priced home in February, compared with 31 percent in February 2003. The High Desert region, where 55 percent of households could afford a home in February, was ranked the most affordable region in the state, compared with 14 percent of households in the San Luis Obispo area.

 

Nationally, about 59 percent of households could afford a median-priced home in February, compared with 59 percent in February 2003.

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