Home affordability in California reached a 24-year high in the first quarter of 2012, with 56% of homebuyers able to afford a median-priced, existing single-family home in the state, the California Association of Realtors said. That is up from a home affordability rate of 55% in the fourth-quarter of last year and 53% in the first quarter of 2011.

CAR has been publishing its traditional housing affordability index since 1988 and described the first quarter of 2012 as the most affordable quarter yet.

To qualify as a homebuyer who could afford a home valued at California's median price of $276,040, a California buyer needed an annual income of $55,688 in the first quarter, CAR said.

Counties located in the greater San Francisco Bay area saw housing affordability levels either rise or remain stable depending on the county the home resided in.

In Contra Costa County, affordability declined by one percentage point. With an affordability rate of 78% on the CAR index, San Bernardino County was the most affordable in the state, while San Francisco County is the least affordable with only 29% of households able to purchase a median-priced home within the county.