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ATTOM: First quarter sees lowest home affordability since 2009

Housing less affordable in 25% of markets

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Affordability slipped below historical averages in 25% of housing markets in the first quarter of 2017 according to the Q1 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index from ATTOM Data Solutions, a fused property database.

A total of 95 out of 379 counties analyzed in the report posted an affordability index below 100 in the first quarter, the highest share of markets below 100 since the fourth quarter of 2009.

An affordability index below 100 means that the share of average wages needed to buy a median-priced home is above the historic average for a given market.

The national affordability index in the first quarter of 2017 was 103, down from 108 in the fourth quarter and down from 119 a year ago to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008. This drop in affordability means an average of 33.6% of weekly wages are needed to buy a median-priced home nationwide.

“Home affordability continued to worsen in the first quarter, not surprising given the continued strong growth in home prices combined with the recent rise in mortgage rates,” ATTOM Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist said.

“Stronger wage growth is the silver lining in this report, outpacing home price growth in more than half of the markets for the first time since Q1 2012, when median home prices were still falling nationwide,” Blomquist said. “If that pattern continues, it will help turn the tide in the eroding home affordability trend.”

But as for now, average income earners in 97 counties would need to pay more than 43%, the maximum debt-to-income ratios for qualified mortgages by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to buy a median-priced home.

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