Lower interest rates helped make homes more affordable to median-income families even as house prices continued to inch up in metro areas across the country in the third quarter of 2012. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) rose to 74.1 in the third quarter, up slightly from 73.8 in the previous quarter.
The HOI is the share of new and existing homes sold in a quarter affordable to a family earning the median income. An HOI of 74.1 means that 74.1 percent of all homes sold during the third quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income ($65,000).
Topping the affordability list for the first time in the HOI’s history, Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, was named the most affordable major housing market (population > 500,000) in the country in the third quarter. There, 93.2 percent of all new and existing homes sold between July and September of this year were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $71,500.
Among smaller housing markets, Fairbanks, Alaska, retained its standing at the top of the affordability chart with an incredible 99.4 percent of all homes sold there in the third quarter being affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $92,900.
Meanwhile, New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. retained the title of the least affordable major housing market in the country for an 18th consecutive quarter, with just 28.5 percent of homes sold there being affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $68,300.
The least affordable small housing market in the third quarter was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., with just 44.4 percent of homes sold being within reach of families earning the median income of $87,000.
For more information on the HOI, including history and details for every metro area covered, please see www.nahb.org/hoi.