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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Affordability Edged Up in November
by Sandy Batten  January 17, 2020

The National Association of Realtors reported that its Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index edged up 0.3% m/m (13.9% y/y) to 163.8 in November from 163.3 in October. This was the fifth monthly increase in the past six months and the second highest reading since January 2018 (the highest being 164.8 in September). Though the index has generally been improving since mid-2018, it remains well below its all-time high of 213.3 reached in January 2013.

In November, monthly principal and interest payments edged up to $1,015 from $1,013 in October but remained at 15.3% of income. The median sales price was little changed in November after having falling in each of the previous four months. Median family income continued to increase, rising to $79,824 in November to be 3.7% higher than a year ago. The effective mortgage interest rate edged up one basis point to 3.75% in November, but remains well below the 4.99% recorded in November a year ago.

The Housing Affordability Index equals 100 when median family income qualifies for an 80% mortgage on a median-priced existing single-family home. A rising index indicates an increasing number of buyers can qualify for a mortgage to purchase the median-priced home. Data on Home Affordability can be found in Haver's REALTOR database. Interest rate data can be found in the WEEKLY and DAILY databases.

Housing Affordability Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Fixed Rate Housing Affordability Index 163.8 163.3 164.8 13.9% 147.8 159.1 167.7
  Payment as a Percent of Income 15.3 15.3 15.2 17.4 17.0 15.7 14.9
  Principal and Interest Payment $1,015 $1,013 $1,004 $1,115 $1,079 $967 $880
  Median Sales Price (Existing Single Family Home) $274,000 $273,800 $274,400 $259,900 $259,458 $247,508 $233,642
  Monthly Fixed Mortgage Rate   3.75% 3.74% 3.65% 4.99% 4.72% 4.20% 3.88%
  Median Family Income $79,824 $79,425 $79,422 $76,968 $76,322 $73,891 $71,062
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