Home affordability in the Golden State held steady in the fourth quarter of 2009 at 64 percent, according to a report by the California Association of Realtors.

That means 64 percent of California households could afford to buy an entry-level home, the same percentage as in the third quarter of 2009 and above the revised 61 percent figure for fourth quarter of 2008.

The median price for an entry-level home in the state was $257,940; the estimated monthly payment including taxes and insurance was $1,470; and the minimum household income needed to purchase a home at that payment was $44,100, the report said.

Home affordability in the Golden State held steady in the fourth quarter of 2009 at 64 percent, according to a report by the California Association of Realtors.

That means 64 percent of California households could afford to buy an entry-level home, the same percentage as in the third quarter of 2009 and above the revised 61 percent figure for fourth quarter of 2008.

The median price for an entry-level home in the state was $257,940; the estimated monthly payment including taxes and insurance was $1,470; and the minimum household income needed to purchase a home at that payment was $44,100, the report said.

The association assumes first-time homebuyers purchase a home at 85 percent of the overall median price for existing homes with a 10 percent downpayment and an adjustable 4.5 percent interest rate.

The state was, predictably, still less affordable than the nation as a whole. The U.S. home affordability index, 77 percent, went up slightly from 76 percent in third-quarter 2009 and 74 percent in fourth-quarter 2008, the report said.

The association based its findings on the reported number of closed escrow sales from about 80 Realtors’ boards and multiple listings services statewide.

The association also divided its data by region and county, using localized median home price and income distribution to quantify affordability in a particular area. It got the income data from demographic data company Nielsen Claritas.

The High Desert region was the most affordable at 84 percent, up 6 percent year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $103,130, an estimated monthly payment of $590, and a minimum qualifying income of $17,700.

The Sacramento County region was the second most affordable at 79 percent, up 3 percent year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $160,290, an estimated monthly payment of $920, and a minimum qualifying income of $27,600. …CONTINUED

The San Luis Obispo County region was the least affordable at 48 percent, remaining mostly flat from the same period the year before, with an entry-level home price of $329,010, an estimated monthly payment of $1,880, and a minimum qualifying income of $56,400.

The second least affordable regions were the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Barbara area, both at 50 percent.

In the Bay Area, affordability has not changed year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $468,620, an estimated monthly payment of $2,680, and a minimum qualifying income of $80,400.

In the Santa Barbara area, affordability has fallen 7 percent year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $357,710, an estimated monthly payment of $2,040, and a minimum qualifying income of $61,200.

By county, Merced was the most affordable at 84 percent, up 3 percent year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $94,360, an estimated monthly payment of $540, and a minimum qualifying income of $16,200.

San Francisco was the least affordable county at 35 percent, up 2 percent year-over-year, with an entry-level home price of $598,860, an estimated monthly payment of $3,420, and a minimum qualifying income of $102,600.

The association has tracked the state’s home affordability since the first quarter of 2000 when it was at 55 percent with the lowest median entry-level home price of the decade — $193,948 — and an estimated monthly payment of $1,365, a minimum qualifying income of $40,952, and a 6.83 percent interest rate.

The state’s lowest affordability index rate was 26 percent in the second quarter of both 2006 and 2007. The highest median entry-level home price for the decade was in the latter quarter, at $503,560 with a monthly payment of $3,193, a minimum income of $95,803, and a 5.64 percent interest rate.

As of fourth quarter 2009, the median entry-level home price was down 48.8 percent since that peak.

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