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Homeownership remains affordable for the majority

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Andy Warren

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Despite rising housing prices, homeownership remains within reach for the majority of Americans, according to information released last month by the National Association of Home Builders.

The first National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) report of the year indicates 73.7 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. The number is down slightly from the 74.9 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners at the end of 2012.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C., said favorable mortgage rates and prices over the last four years contributed heavily to the affordability factor for buyers. Even though builders have endured rising labor, land and material costs, affordability has held steady since the end of 2008, he said.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe summed up the situation this way, saying: “The bottom line is that for consumers who can qualify for a mortgage at today’s attractive rates, the majority of homes being sold remain within their grasp in markets nationwide.”

Locally, the Tucson housing market’s affordability was better than the national average, while homes in the Valley ranked on par with national index figures. According to the report, 84 percent of the homes sold in Tucson during the first quarter were within reach of those earning the local median family income of $59,900. Meanwhile, 73.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale during the same time period were affordable to buyers earning the local median family income of $62,200 annually.

NAHB’s list of the most affordable major housing markets in the country shows Tucson in the No. 92 spot and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale at 165.

Ogden-Clearfield, Utah topped the list as the nation’s most affordable major housing market, while San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., retained its position as the least affordable major market. This was the third consecutive quarter in which Ogden-Clearfield occupied the No. 1 slot. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa; and a tie between Syracuse, N.Y. and Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y., rounded out the top five most affordable housing markets for the first quarter.

(Editor’s Note: Andy Warren is President of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the Board of Directors and as an Executive Committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.)

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