Finding an affordable home in Orange County got just a tiny bit easier in September.
But more than two-thirds of Orange County households still could not afford the median resale home in the county.
With existing resale housing fetching a median price of $167,143 in September, it took an annual household income of $51,928 to qualify for a mortgage.
That meant just 30% of the county's families can afford an existing single-family house, according to a monthly survey released Thursday by the California Assn. of Realtors.
That was up slightly from the 29% of county households that could afford to buy in July, the latest previous month surveyed by the association.
The survey does not include new homes, nor does it include condominiums.
Across the state in September, the situation was only a little better--with 31% of all households able to afford the median resale home price of $143,882.
By contrast, the median price of a home nationwide was $79,400, and nearly half of U.S. families could afford one, the association said.
The mortgage payment on the median Orange County home was $1,298 a month in September, according to the association. The state average was $1,116.
On the bright side, California housing prices held relatively steady in September, rising by a mere $6, which was also Orange County's median price.
And the September median prices were actually down from July levels.
On the other hand, the association said, interest rates rose during September, and with them rose the likelihood that affordable housing will be pushed out out of the reach of even more families.
In fact, a local consulting company said recently it was only an influx of home buyers moving into Orange County from elsewhere that buoyed home sales here during July, August and September.
The Meyers Group of Corona del Mar estimated that without those new buyers, the 2,842 housing units sold during the third quarter would have been far less.
"Without people being transferred here by their companies, the statistics would have reflected a significant decrease from that number," said Steve Johnson, general manager of The Meyers Group.
Even for affluent newcomers, however, the price of homes in Orange County can be daunting.
"Folks who come from out of the state often expect the American dream of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with garage, and they expect it for $150,000," said an Irvine real estate broker.
"And that's almost impossible to come by here."
AFFORDABILITY INDEX FOR EXISTING HOMES
Only 30% of Orange County households could afford to buy the median-priced resale home in the county in September, compared with 31% in September 1986.
Median Monthly Minimum Per Selling Price Mtg. Pymt. Annual Income Qual '87 '86 '87 '86 '87 '86 '87 United States $84,900 79,400 $658 653 $26,335 26,100 49% California 143,882 132,743 1,116 1,091 44,630 43,635 31% S.F. Bay Area 176,596 165,337 1,369 1,359 54,777 54,349 17% Orange County 167,411 152,941 1,298 1,257 51,928 50,274 30% Los Angeles 146,852 130,079 1,139 1,069 45,551 42,759 27% San Diego 133,766 118,756 1,037 976 41,492 39,037 29% Riverside/ San Brdino. 100,545 96,360 780 792 31,187 31,675 44% cent ified '86 United States 48% California 31% S.F. Bay Area 16% Orange County 31% Los Angeles 31% San Diego 31% Riverside/ San Brdino. 42%
Source: California Assn. of Realtors