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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Affordability Decreases Again in November
by Carol Stone, CBE  January 14, 2022

• Mortgage payments rose again due to higher home prices.

• Family income edged up 0.2% in November.

• Mortgage rates were unchanged in latest month.

The National Association of Realtors' Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index fell 0.7% in November (-12.4% y/y) to 147.8; that followed a decrease of 1.9% in October, revised from 2.3% reported initially. Affordability has fallen 21.3% since its recent high of 187.8 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 November, the median sales price of a home rose 0.9% (14.9% y/y) to $362,600, following a 0.4% increase in October to $359,800. Mortgage rates were unchanged in November from October at 3.12%, according to this National Association of Realtors rate measure. The resulting monthly mortgage payment for a house at that price and interest rate was $1,242, up 0.9% from the payment calculated for October of $1,231 for a home purchased at October's price and designated mortgage rate.

Median family income in November was $88,137, up 0.2% (+4.7% y/y) from October's income of $87,941, which was up 0.7% in the month. Consequently, the standard mortgage payment as a percent of income was 16.9%, up from 16.8% in October and the highest since June's 17.1%.

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 Nov Oct Sep Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Fixed Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Index (100+=More Affordable) 147.8 148.8 151.7 -12.4 172.3 161.3 147.9
  Payment as a Percent of Income 16.9 16.8 16.5 14.8 14.5 15.5 17.0
  Principal and Interest Payment ($) 1,242 1,231 1,199 19.4 1,028 1,044 1,079
  Monthly Mortgage Rate (%)   3.12 3.12 2.95 2.82 3.17 4.04 4.72
  Median Family Income ($) 88,137 87,941 87,300 4.7 84,969 80,808 76,401
  Median Sales Price (Existing Single-Family Home, $) 362,600 359,500 357,900 14.9 298,708 272,333 259,458
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