The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home fell to 18 percent in August, a 5 percentage-point decrease compared with the same period a year ago, according to a report released today by the California Association of Realtors.

The August housing affordability index declined 1 percentage point compared to July, when it stood at 19 percent.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $474,370 in California in August was $111,180, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.83 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment. This figure was up from $93,790 in August 2003, when the median price of a home was $406,140 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.66 percent.

Nationally, the minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $190,100 in August 2004 was $44,550.

At 42 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable region in the state, followed by the Sacramento and Central Valley regions at 26 percent. The San Diego region was the least affordable in the state at 10 percent, followed by the Orange County region at 11 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 150,000 members.

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