Housing Affordability to hit Record for 2012

With 11 months of data reported, 2012 will clearly go down as a record year for favorable housing affordability, and a great year for buyers who could get a mortgage.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Housing Affordability Index stood at 198.2 in November, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate. The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power; recordkeeping began in 1970.

An index of 100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming a 20 percent down-payment and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payments.

For first-time home buyers making small down payments, the affordability levels are relatively lower. For all of 2012, NAR projects the housing affordability index to be a record high 194, up from 186 in 2011, which was the previous record. November’s reading was 2.5 index points below October, but up 1.5 index points from a year earlier.

NAR projects the housing affordability index to average 160 during 2013, which means on a national basis that a median-income family would have 160 percent of the income needed to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home.

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