Home Affordability Improves In Q3

ATTOM Data Solutions released its Q3 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index, which shows that home affordability in the third quarter improved compared to the previous quarter in 60 percent of 406 U.S. counties analyzed in the report — although affordability was still worse off than a year ago in 79 percent of those counties.

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The Q3 2017 home affordability index increased compared to the previous quarter (meaning homes were more affordable) in 243 of the 406 counties analyzed in the report (60 percent), including Los Angeles County, California; Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Harris County (Houston), Texas; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; and San Diego County, California.

The Q3 2017 home affordability index decreased compared to the previous quarter (meaning homes were less affordable) in 163 (40 percent) of the 406 counties analyzed in the report, including Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan; Middlesex County (Boston), Massachusetts; along with three counties in the New York metro area: Suffolk, Bronx and Westchester.

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The national home affordability index was 100 in the third quarter of 2017, the lowest national affordability index since Q3 2008, when the index was 86. An index of 100 means the share of average wages needed to buy a median-priced home nationwide in Q3 2017 is on par with historic averages (see full methodology below).

“Falling interest rates in the third quarter provided enough of a cushion to counteract rising home prices in most U.S. markets and provide at least some temporary relief for the home affordability crunch,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “More sustainable relief for the affordability crunch, however, will need to be some combination of slowing home price appreciation and accelerating wage growth. Wage growth is outpacing home price growth in about half of all local markets so far this year, an indication that a more sustainable affordability pattern is taking shape in more local markets.”

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Annual wage growth outpaced annual home price appreciation in 193 of the 406 counties analyzed in the third quarter (48 percent), down from 216 counties (53 percent) in Q2 2017 and down from 205 counties (50 percent) in Q1 2017 — the first time since Q1 2012 that at least half of all markets saw wage growth outpacing home price growth.

Counties where wage growth outpaced home price growth in Q3 2017 included Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; Orange County, California; San Bernardino County, California; and Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas.

“With Southern California boasting some of the highest average sales prices in the country, our market is a testament to the importance of local community job growth,” said Michael Mahon, president at First Team Real Estate, covering Southern California.Los Angeles County is experiencing a sluggish job creation environment, creating an even wider gap in housing affordability. But in Orange County, where we are seeing local government partnering with business owners on growth incentives and business owner recruitment, we continue to see an economic environment where wage growth is exceeding the annual cost of housing inflation.”

Since bottoming out nationwide in Q1 2012, median home prices have risen 73 percent while average weekly wages have increased 13 percent over the same period.

Counties where home price growth in Q3 2017 outpaced annual wage growth included Los Angeles County, California; Harris County (Houston), Texas; San Diego County, California; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Kings County (Brooklyn), New York.