The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 19 percent in December, unchanged from the previous two months but down 4 percentage points from 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 $474,480 in California in December was $110,530, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.76 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment. This figure was up from $94,070 in December 2003, when the median price of a home was $401,720 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.82 percent.

By contrast, the minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $188,900 in the United States in December 2004 was $44,000.

At 41 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable region in the state, followed by the Central Valley and Sacramento regions at 24 percent. The Santa Barbara region was the least affordable in the state at 9 percent, followed by the Monterey, Northern Wine Country, and San Diego regions at 11 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 160,000 members.


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