U.S. homes increasingly affordable, but NYC area remains out of reach for most buyers

Despite rising housing prices, homes across the nation are becoming more affordable to median-income families, thanks to lower interest rates, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, released today. Greater New York, however, continues to be the least affordable major housing market in the country.

Nationwide, the median price of new and existing homes sold in the third quarter was $189,000, $13,000 higher than the previous year, the report stated. But the reduced mortgage rates — they’re at the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade – meant that 74.1 percent of these homes were affordable to median-income families, up from 73.8 percent in the previous quarter.

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Barry Rutenberg, the housing association’s chairman, said that the data was good news for home buyers and showed that housing remained affordable even as home prices rallied from their recessionary lows. However, he cautioned that lending remains tight. “We know that it remains very difficult for potential buyers to qualify for and obtain those great rates,” he said.

Ogden-Clearfield, Utah was the nation’s most affordable major housing market, with 93.2 percent of homes sold in the third quarter affordable to median-income families. At the bottom of the list of 225 metro areas for the 18th consecutive quarter was New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., with just 28.5 percent of homes sold in the third quarter affordable to median-income families. —Hiten Samtani