Housing affordability remained near an 18-year high during the second quarter, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released this month.

The index, which measures the share of new and resale homes affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, showed that the housing affordability was up from 55 percent during the second quarter of 2008 to 72.3 second quarter percent this year, and down slightly from 72.5 percent in first-quarter 2009.

The increase in affordability — along with the $8,000 federal tax credit for homebuyers — is stimulating demand, particularly among young, first-time buyers, said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson in a statement. He encouraged an extension and expansion of the program to stimulate activity in the trade-up market.

Nationally, according to the NAHB report, Indianapolis ranked as the most affordable housing market in the nation during the second quarter, with an estimated 95 percent of all new and existing homes sold in that quarter affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $68,100 — it is the 16th consecutive quarter that Indianapolis has topped this list.

Among the other housing markets with high affordability rankings: Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

The California Building Industry Association noted that homes became less affordable in 16 of California’s 28 metro areas included in the NAHB report, with 62.7 percent of homes affordable to median-income families in that state. That is down from 64.4 percent in first-quarter 2009.

The San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin metro area was ranked as the least-affordable metro in the nation, with 26.9 percent of the homes sold affordable to a median-income family, down from 32.1 percent in first-quarter 2009.

Madera County was ranked as the most affordable area in the state, with 84.4 percent affordability compared with 80.4 percent in first-quarter 2009.

And a separate report by the California Association of Realtors, the First-Time Buyer Housing Affordability Index, found that 67 percent of households could afford to purchase an entry-level home in California in the second quarter, compared with 69 percent in the first quarter and 49 percent in second-quarter 2008.

–Riya V. Anandwala

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