Report shows U.S. homes getting more affordable

by Kelly McCabe

In the third quarter of 2017, homes were more affordable in 60 percent of U.S. counties measured in a new study from ATTOM Data Solutions. However, affordability is worse now than a year ago in 79 percent of those counties.

The affordability index was 100 in the third quarter of 2017, which is the lowest mark since the same quarter in 2008, when it was 86, according to ATTOM.

“Falling interest rates in the third quarter provided enough of a cushion to counteract rising home prices in most U.S. markets and provide at least some temporary relief for the home affordability crunch,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM. “More sustainable relief for the affordability crunch, however, will need to be some combination of slowing home price appreciation and accelerating wage growth. Wage growth is outpacing home price growth in about half of all local markets so far this year, an indication that a more sustainable affordability pattern is taking shape in more local markets.”

Despite home prices becoming more affordable, it’s not due to wages. The report showed that median home prices have risen 73 percent since 2012 while wages have grown 13 percent. Some of the counties where home prices grew faster than wages include Los Angeles County, California; Harris County, Texas; San Diego County, California; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Kings County (Brooklyn), New York.

However, wages outpaced home prices in 48 percent of the counties measured around the country, including Cook County, Illinois; Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County, California; San Bernardino County, California; and Bexar County, Texas.