Despite a slight improvement from August, the percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home in September stood at 19 percent, still 5 percentage points lower than 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 $465,540 in California in September was $107,880, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.7 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment. This figure was up from $91,030 in September 2003, when the median price of a home was $384,690 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.94 percent.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $186,600 in the U.S. in September 2004 was $43,240.

At 42 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable in the state, followed by the Central Valley region at 26 percent. The Santa Barbara region was the least affordable in the state at 6 percent, followed by the San Diego 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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