Thursday, August 22, 2013

Home Affordability High Despite Rising Prices, Interest Rates

Even with home prices marching ever upward and mortgage rates bouncing back more than a full percentage point over last year, Capital Economics’ Paul Diggle insists housing affordability is still as good as most other experts say it is—if not better. Explaining that affordability measures “the burden of mortgage payments relative to income,” Diggle notes that the latest data from the National Association of Realtors shows that a family earning the median income has 178 percent of the income necessary to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. At the same time, typical mortgage payments currently average 17 percent of median income, up from recent months but below the long-run average of 22 percent. In the firm’s latest US Housing Market Focus, Diggle notes that long-term trends show prices are up 15 percent below their trend level, with the ratio of Case-Shiller prices to disposal incomes per capital pointing to housing being about 16 percent below fair value. However, when comparing median household income to median home prices, Diggle says housing looks “no better than fairly valued.”