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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Affordability Falls Again in February
by Tom Moeller  April 8, 2022

• Higher prices & mortgage rates continue to drive home affordability lower.

• Principal & interest payments surge.

• Payment as a percent of income increases one percentage point m/m.

Finding an affordable home is becoming increasingly difficult. The National Association of Realtors' Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index fell 5.4% to 135.4 in February and has fallen 26.3% since its recent peak in January 2021. The Housing Affordability Index equals 100 when median family income equals the amount required for an 80% mortgage on a median-priced existing single-family home.

In February, a 2.0% rise (15.5% y/y) in the median sales price of a home to $363,800 was accompanied by a rise in mortgage rates to 3.83%, up from 2.86% twelve months earlier. As a result, the monthly mortgage payment rose 6.1% m/m to a record $1,361 (30.4% y/y) from $1,283 in January.

Median family income in February rose 0.4% (3.6% y/y) to $88,424 from $88,114 in January. Consequently, the standard mortgage payment as a percent of income rose to 18.5%, the highest level since August 2008. These figures are up from a recent low of 13.6% in January of 2021.

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

Housing Affordability Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index (100+=More Affordable) 135.4 143.1 147.1 -20.5 155.8 172.3 161.3
  Payment as a Percent of Income 18.5 17.5 17.0 14.7 16.2 14.5 15.5
  Principal and Interest Payment ($) 1,361 1,283 1,242 30.4 1,182 1,028 1,044
  Monthly Mortgage Rate (%)   3.83 3.51 3.15 2.86 3.01 3.17 4.04
  Median Family Income ($) 88,424 88,114 87,683 3.6 87,965 84,969 80,808
  Median Sales Price (Existing Single-Family Home, $) 363,800 356,700 361,300 15.5 349,917 298,708 272,333
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