Despite a drop in the percentage of California households in September able to afford a median-priced home compared to a year ago, affordability conditions made a slight improvement from the month before, according to a report released today by the California Association of Realtors.

The Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percentage of households that meet the minimum affordability requirements to purchase a median-priced home, dropped from 19 percent in September 2004 to 15 percent in September 2005, but gained 1 percentage point from August when it stood at 14 percent, the association reported.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $543,980 in California in September was $128,270, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.9 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment. This minimum income figure was up from $107,440 in September 2004, when the median price of a home was $463,630 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.7 percent.

By contrast, the minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $212,000 in the United States in September 2005 was $49,990.

Good news for Californians is that the minimum household income needed to buy a median-priced home actually fell by $5,530 between August and September, from $133,800 to $128,270. 

At 26 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable region in California, followed by the Sacramento region at 20 percent. The Northern Wine Country region was the least affordable in the state at 7 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. comprises more than 180,000 members.

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