California Housing Affordability Increases in First Quarter, CBIA Announces


California now home to 7 of top 10 least affordable markets, however

SACRAMENTO, CA – May 20, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Housing affordability in California increased overall in the first quarter of 2010, but 13 of the state’s 28 metropolitan areas included in the report saw decreases, the California Building Industry Association said today.

On a statewide basis, the HOI found that a family earning the median-income could have afforded 60.8 percent of the new and existing homes that were sold during the first quarter, up from 56.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. The report also found that California is now home to seven of the top ten least affordable markets in the nation.

Liz Snow, CBIA’s President and CEO, said that the report was encouraging for prospective buyers, but cautioned that more must be done to make housing in California more affordable in the future.

“This is good news for homebuyers eager to take advantage of the recently enacted state tax credits and should encourage more people to enter the market to take advantage of low prices and interest rates,” said Snow. “Recent reports keep showing that most areas in California are seeing price increases, so we don’t expect these affordability levels to last as the housing market continues to stabilize.”

Snow noted that California has been notorious for high priced homes that keep a number of people priced out of the market.

“The fact that California is still home to over half of the top 20 least affordable markets in the nation sends a clear message that we must look at the barriers to providing housing for California families and come up with ways to better meet the demand,” said Snow. “There has been a significant imbalance in supply and demand for a number of years which has lead to the huge price increases that we’ve seen in the past. In order to avoid this scenario, we must take advantage of this opportunity to work with lawmakers on sound policy that reduces some of the barriers to building homes, as well as policy that provides a dedicated source of revenue for the development of affordable housing, so that we can keep prices more affordable in the long run and help more families attain the dream of homeownership.”

San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties once again claimed the distinction of California’s least-affordable metro area, and second in the nation, with just 23.4 percent of the homes sold being affordable to a family earning the median income, up from 22.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. San Luis Obispo County came in third (32.4 percent), followed by Ocean City, N.J. and Santa Cruz County (tied with 34.1 percent). The New York City metro area continued to hold the title of the nation’s least affordable market for the eighth quarter in a row (20.9 percent).

Merced County overtook Stanislaus County for the title of California’s most affordable market with 82.4 percent affordability, down from 83.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Stanislaus County and Yuba and Sutter Counties were the second and third most-affordable metro areas in California with 81.5 percent and 79.6 percent affordability, respectively.

Nationwide, 72.2 percent of new and existing homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income, up slightly from 70.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. Bay City, Mich. was the nation’s most-affordable housing market with an affordability ranking of 98.7 percent, followed by Kokomo, Ind., with a ranking of 98.1 percent.


How the HOI is calculated

For income, NAHB uses the annual median family income estimates for metropolitan areas published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. NAHB assumes that a family can afford to spend 28 percent of its gross income on housing; this is a conventional assumption in the lending industry. That share of median income is then divided by twelve to arrive at a monthly figure.

On the cost side, NAHB receives every month a CD of sales transaction records from First American Real Estate Solutions (formerly, TRW). The data include information on state, county, date of sale, and sales price of homes sold. The monthly principal and interest that an owner would pay is based on the assumption of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with a loan for 90 percent of the sales price (i.e., 10 percent down-payment). The interest rate is a weighted average of fixed and adjustable rates during that quarter, as reported by the Federal Housing Finance Board. In addition to principal and interest, cost also includes estimated property taxes and property insurance for that home. This is based on metropolitan estimates of tax and insurance rates from the 2000 Decennial Census, as estimated by NAHB from the Census Bureau’s Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). Mortgage insurance is not currently a component of the HOI.

More information about the HOI, including historical tables for communities nationwide, can be obtained at Questions about the methodology should be directed to Gopal Ahluwalia (202-266-8480) or Rose Quint (202-266-8527) in NAHB’s Research Department.

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing thousands of homebuilders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals. More information is available on the Association’s Web site,

Media Contact:
Michael Castillo
Communications Manager
(916) 443-7933 ext. 346
mcastillo (at) cbia (dot) org


The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) is a statewide trade association representing thousands of homebuilders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals.


California Building Industry Association
1215 K Street, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 443-7933
Fax: (916) 443-1960

Michael Castillo
Communications Specialist
(916) 443-7933 ext. 346

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