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Economy in Brief

Housing Affordability Declined in July but It Remained Up Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  September 11, 2020

• Higher home prices offset decline in mortgage interest rate.

The National Association of Realtors reported that its Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index declined 0.5% to 163.3 in July (+5.2% y/y), the third consecutive monthly drop.

The median sales price of an existing single-family home rose 3.3% (8.5% y/y) to $307,800. This price increase offset a decline in the fixed mortgage interest rate to 3.08% to raise the monthly payment as a percent of income to 15.3%, its highest level in four months.

Median family income, which is projected by the National Association of Realtors, rose 1.0% in July to $82,203 (4.1% y/y), following two months of decline.

These changes raised monthly principal and interest payments to $1,049 in July (-1.0% y/y) from $1,033 in June.

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. Median sales prices are located in USECON. Higher frequency interest rate data can be found in SURVEYW, WEEKLY, and DAILY.

Housing Affordability Jul Jun May Y/Y% 2019 2018 2017
Fixed Rate Housing Affordability Index (100+ = Affordable) 163.3 164.2 170.2 5.2 157.6 147.9 159.1
  Payment as a Percent of Income 15.3 15.2 14.7 16.1 15.9 17.0 15.7
  Principal and Interest Payment ($) 1,049 1,033 1,003 -1.0 1,044 1,079 967
  Monthly Fixed Mortgage Rate (%)   3.08 3.22 3.29 3.82 4.04 4.72 4.20
  Median Family Income ($) 82,203 81,424 81,931 4.1 78,964 76,401 73,891
  Median Sales Price (Existing Single Family Home, $) 307,800 297,900 286,600 8.5 272,333 259,458 247,508
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