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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Affordability Holds Steady in September
by Tom Moeller  November 11, 2021

• Mortgage payments ease with lower prices.

• Interest rates edge higher.

• Family income weakens this year.

The National Association of Realtors' Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index held steady during September (-9.7% y/y) at 150.9. Affordability has fallen, nevertheless, 12.5% since its January high. A Housing Affordability Index of 100 indicates that median family income qualifies for an 80% mortgage on a median-priced existing single-family home. This index has been above 100 in each month since July 1990, reaching its all-time high of 213.3 in January 2013.

Affordability was unchanged during September as the median sales price of a home fell 1.4% (+13.8% y/y) to $359,700. The effective mortgage rate rose slightly to 2.95% from 2.89%. It reached a high of 4.99% late in 2018. That combination lowered principal & interest payments to $1,205 per month (+13.8% y/y). Payments held steady in September at 16.6% of income.

Family income edged 0.6% lower (+2.7% y/y) to $87,300 and was 11.2% below the March high.

Data on Housing Affordability can be found in Haver's REALTOR database. Median home sale prices also are located in USECON. Higher frequency interest rate data can be found in SURVEYW, WEEKLY, and DAILY.

Housing Affordability Sep Aug Jul Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index (100+=More Affordable) 150.9 150.9 150.6 -9.7 172.3 161.3 147.9
  Payment as a Percent of Income 16.6 16.6 16.6 14.9 14.5 15.5 17.0
  Principal and Interest Payment ($) 1,205 1,213 1,224 13.8 1,028 1,044 1,079
  Monthly Mortgage Rate (%)   2.95 2.89 2.92 2.95 3.17 4.04 4.72
  Median Family Income ($) 87,300 87,865 88,457 2.7 84,969 80,808 76,401
  Median Sales Price (Existing Single-Family Home, $) 359,700 364,700 366,600 13.8 298,708 272,333 259,458
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