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THE ECONOMY : Fewer in State Than Ever Can Afford Homes

June 30, 1989|From United Press International

California's housing crisis deepened even further in May, with only 15% of households able to afford a median-priced home, the California Assn. of Realtors reported Thursday.

May's affordability index dropped from 17% in April for the fifth month in a row. The number was the lowest since the Realtors association started tracking it in January, 1984.

"It's a very disturbing trend," a Realtors association spokesman said.

With the cost of a median-priced single-family detached home rising to $201,930 in May from $200,784 in April, households needed a minimum annual income of $68,204 to qualify for a mortgage loan. After the loan was secured, they faced monthly payments of $1,705.

The percentage who could qualify was down drastically from 23% in May of 1988, when the median-priced home sold for $163,578.

The percentage of Californians who could afford a median-priced condominium also fell in May, dropping to 30% from 32% in April and 37% a year earlier.

The median sale price of a condominium rose to $139,117 in May from $136,575 in April and $121,456 a year ago.

CAR President Leo Saunders said the affordability drop "reveals the seriousness of the state's housing crisis, particularly for first-time home buyers."

"Even the presence of lower mortgage interest rates in recent weeks will not result in significant improvement in affordability in the months ahead," he said.

Affordability fell in nearly every major market in the state, often to new lows.

The situation was worst in San Francisco, where an alarmingly small 9% of households could afford the median-priced detached home, priced at $267,634. A household in the Bay Area needed an annual income of a whopping $90,396 to qualify for mortgage loan and faced monthly payments of $2,260.

In Los Angeles and Orange County, the affordability index fell to 13%. Median-priced detached homes in those areas rose to $217,700 and $247,397 respectively.

The index reamined steady at 11% in Ventura County, fell to 18% in San Diego, 29% in the Riverside and San Bernardino area, and 39% in Sacramento.

For the United States as a whole, the affordability index slipped to 44% from 47% in April.

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