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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Affordability Plunges in March
by Tom Moeller  May 12, 2022

• Home prices & mortgage rates continue to surge.

• Payment as a percent of income increases almost two percentage points.

Affordable homes are in short supply. The National Association of Realtors' Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index fell 7.9% in March and has fallen by roughly one-third 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 March, a 4.4% rise (15.2% y/y) in the median sales price of a home to $382,000 was accompanied by a rise in mortgage rates to 4.2%, up from 3.1% twelve months earlier. As a result, the monthly mortgage payment rose 9.7% m/m to a record $1,502 (32.0% y/y).

Median family income in March rose 1.1% (-6.6% y/y) to $89,381. Consequently, the standard mortgage payment as a percent of income rose to 20.2%, 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.

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