California's housing affordability rate rose to its highest level in the fourth quarter of 2011, matching a record high set in 2009, according to data from the California Association of Realtors (CAR).
CAR reports that the percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California rose to 55% in the fourth quarter, up from 52% in the third quarter and up from 50% in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Home buyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $57,750 to qualify for the purchase of a $282,350 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the fourth quarter, according to CAR. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $1,440, assuming a 20% down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.31%. The effective composite interest rate in the third quarter of 2011 was 4.63%, while the rate was 4.62% in the fourth quarter of 2010.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, housing affordability rose in most counties except San Francisco and San Mateo counties, where it was unchanged, primarily due to home price increases in those counties. At 78%, San Bernardino County was the most affordable, while San Francisco County was the least affordable, with only 26% of households able to purchase the county's median-priced home.
More details on CAR's fourth-quarter data are online.