Tim McLaughlin, VP Weichert Financial Services
Housing affordability conditions for all buyers reached a milestone in the first quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR’s composite quarterly Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high of 205.9 in the first quarter, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate. This is the first time the quarterly index broke the 200 mark since NAR began record keeping in 1970.
Furthermore, NAR’s index shows the median income family, earning just under $61,000, could afford a home costing $325,500 in the first quarter, which is more than double the national median existing single-family home price of $158,100. The median monthly mortgage principal and interest payment for a median-priced home would take only 13.5% of gross income, given the level of where historically low interest rates are.
A companion NAR index measuring the ability of first-time buyers to purchase a home also set a record, with the first-time buyer index reaching 135.8 in the first quarter. “For those with good credit, we’ve never seen better housing affordability conditions or market opportunities than we see at present,” says NAR President Moe Veissi. “
The US mortgage delinquency rate declined in the first quarter to the lowest level since 2008 as an improving job market and low interest rates aided borrowers.
The share of home loans at least 30 days late dropped to 7.40 percent from 7.58 percent in the previous three months, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The rate peaked at 10.10 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and was last lower in the third quarter of 2008, when it was 6.99 percent.
“Delinquencies are clearly continuing to improve,” Michael Fratantoni, the group’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement. “Newer delinquencies, loans one payment past due as of March 31, are down to the lowest level since the middle of 2007, indicating fewer new problems we will need to deal with in the future.”