Housing Affordability Down in Bay Area, California as Prices Continue Rising

Rising prices pushed Bay Area homes even further out of reach for most buyers in the third quarter, with barely one in five able to afford a median-priced home.

Stacks of coinsThe Bay Area remains the least affordable region in California for homebuyers, according to a recent survey from the California Association of Realtors, although all regions reported drop-offs in housing affordability.

San Mateo was the least affordable county in the state in the third quarter, with only 15 percent of its residents able to buy a median-priced, existing single-family home there.

San Francisco was the second-least affordable county in California, with 16 percent of residents able to purchase a home. The other seven Bay Area counties followed in this order: Contra Costa and Marin (18 percent), Alameda and Santa Clara (21 percent), Sonoma (24 percent), Napa (28 percent), and Solano (56 percent).

Together, Bay Area housing affordability fell to 21 percent in the third quarter, down from 24 percent in the previous quarter and 35 percent a year earlier.

Homebuyers in the Bay Area needed to earn a minimum annual income of $144,870 to qualify for the purchase of a $704,990 median-priced home in the third quarter. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,620, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.36 percent.

Statewide, the percentage of homebuyers who could afford to buy a median-priced home fell to 32 percent in the third quarter, down from 36 percent in the second quarter and 49 percent a year earlier.

Affordability levels in California have been falling since they peaked at 56 percent in the first quarter of 2012. That was just before the housing recovery took hold and prices started rising.

Even as affordability continues to slide, however, far more Californians are able to purchase a home today than six years ago. Affordability fell to a record low of 11 percent in the second quarter of 2007, just before the housing industry collapse and nationwide recession.

(Image: Flickr/Bhautikjoshi)

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