About 74% of homes sold during the third quarter were affordable to those earning a median income of $65,000. This compares to about 73% of homes sold in the previous quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Opportunity Index.

Lower interest rates were a direct result of an increase in affordable housing, even though home prices continued to rise. This is due to significantly lower mortgage rates, making home prices affordable. 

"Given today’s overly tight lending conditions, we know that it remains very difficult for potential buyers to qualify for and obtain those great rates," said chairman Barry Rutenberg of NAHB.

Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve said as much in a speech today. "Lenders began tightening mortgage credit standards in 2007 and have not significantly eased standards since," Bernanke said. "Terms and standards have tightened most for borrowers with lower credit scores and with less money available for a down payment."

Rutenberg added that for families who qualify for a mortgage at such favorable terms, the outlook is brightening — but being able to afford a home and getting approved for a mortgage are still two different things in the current marketplace.

The new and existing median home price was $189,000, an increase from $176,000 from the previous quarter, which is the strongest increase since 2008.

The most affordable major housing market included Ohio, Indianapolis and Florida.