Housing affordability in California dropped 4 percentage points in the third quarter compared to the same quarter last year, the California Association of Realtors trade group reported today.

The percentage of first-time buyers in California who can afford a median-priced home fell to 24 percent in the third quarter, according to the association’s First-time Buyer Housing Affordability Index.

First-time buyers needed a minimum household income of $98,890 to buy a home priced at $478,710 in the third quarter, based on an adjustable interest rate of 6.58 percent and assuming a 10 percent down payment, according to the report.

First-time buyers typically purchase a home equal to 85 percent of the prevailing median price, according to the report. The monthly payment including taxes and insurance was $3,300 for the third quarter.

Affordability declined 7 percentage points in the High Desert and Riverside/San Bernardino regions; dropped 6 percentage points in the Santa Clara County region; and fell seven percentage points in San Joaquin County in the third quarter compared to third-quarter 2005, the Realtor group announced.

The High Desert region was the most affordable region in the state, with 39 percent of first-time buyers able to afford a median-priced house in the third quarter, the Realtor group reported, followed by the Sacramento region at 38 percent. Santa Barbara was the least affordable region in the state at 14 percent, followed by Monterey at 17 percent.

Quarterly index data from 2003 to 2006 is available online at http://www.car.org/index.php?id=MzY0ODU.

The state Realtor association has about 195,000 members, which is about 15 percent of the total membership of the National Association of Realtors trade group.

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