More than 70 percent of U.S. homes are affordable, with Indianapolis being the most affordable major metro housing market in the country for the last four years, according to a recent joint report by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.
"The HOI [Housing Opportunity Index] showed that 70.8 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the final quarter of 2009 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, slightly higher than the previous quarter and near the record-high 72.5 percent set during the first quarter of 2009, according to a press statement from the National Association of Home Builders."
The record year of housing affordability is attributed to sliding housing prices and low mortgage rates. The report ranked the top five most and least affordable cities. The most affordable major metro housing markets are: Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and Akron, Ohio.
The report indicates that other smaller metro housing markets were even more affordable than these cities. For instance, "in Kokomo, 98 percent of the homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2009 were affordable to median-income earners," according to the report. Also ranking high on the list were: Monroe, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Lima, Ohio; and Bay City, Mich.
The least affordable major metro housing markets include: San Francisco; Honolulu; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Redwood City, Calif. Topping this list, once again in the fourth quarter of 2009, is New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.
Of the smaller metro housing markets, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. ranked as the least affordable area in the country during the fourth quarter. Here are the other smaller metro markets that ranked as least affordable: Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; Ocean City, N.J.; Napa, Calif.; and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.
Depending on where you want and can live, now may be the opportune time to enter the housing market. The Affordable Housing Clearinghouse is a network of lenders, community groups and public agencies that is dedicated to the creation of quality affordable housing. The executive director talked with me about the loan changes and attitudes of borrowers as they enter the housing market.
"I think [buyers] are now more worried about the [loan] programs that they're going to get into. I don't think that people are as readily willing to sign any type of contracts," says, Brenda J. Rodriguez the executive director of the network. Rodriguez also says that potential buyers must look carefully at their outstanding debt because it has a greater impact on their ability to purchase a home today.
"The debt-to-income ratio is becoming a little more stringent. Before, borrowers could probably get away with 55 percent debt-to-income ratio. Now, we've seen borrowers going into programs and they have to qualify based on 36 percent [debt-to-income ratio]," says Rodriguez.
She offers some familiar but worth-repeating advice, "Don't sign any contracts unless you really understand what it is that you're reading and you understand the terms of your agreement."