Report: 1 in 3 buyers can afford O.C. home

By MARILYN KALFUS / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Nov 12th, 2012

Just 1 in 3 Orange County households could afford to buy a median-priced, single-family home as of the third quarter, the California Association of Realtors said Monday.

Climbing home prices drove affordability down from the previous quarter everywhere in Southern California, while affordability improved or stayed the same in most San Francisco Bay Area counties, the association said.

In Orange County, homebuyers needed at least $108,510 in annual income to qualify for an existing home costing $560,320.

That translates to a monthly payment, including taxes and insurance, of $2,710 for a 30-year fixed-rate loan with 20 percent down and interest of 3.7 percent. By comparison, the interest rate was 4.6 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

Many Orange County real estate agents, however, cite an unprecedented low supply of homes on the market as a more significant hurdle to homeownership.

“I don’t think affordability is the biggest issue right now,” said Rob Magnotta, a broker with First Team Estates in Newport Beach. “I think inventory is a much larger problem. That’s having more of an effect on prices.

“You put a $560,000 home on the market now, if it’s priced right, it’s gone,” he said. “I’m not seeing anything below $700,000 having any difficulty moving at all.”

The report also showed:

•In Orange County, 34 percent of households could afford an existing, median-priced single-family house in the third quarter, up by 1 percentage point from the same period last year, but down by 1 point from the second quarter of 2012.

•The 34 percent compares with 39 percent of Orange County households able to afford a home in the first quarter of 2012, the highest percentage since 2006.

•Statewide, 49 percent of homebuyers could afford an existing home at the median price of $339,860 in the third quarter, down from 51 percent who could afford to do so in both the second quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2011. The annual income needed would be $65,810.

•The monthly payment in California, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $1,650 for a home at the median price. That assumes a 20 percent down payment and an interest rate of 3.7 percent.

Solano County in the Bay Area and San Bernardino County were the most affordable in the state, with 77 percent of homebuyers able to buy a home, the Realtors association said.

Least affordable was San Mateo County in the Bay Area, at 24 percent.

A nationwide study recently found that a median-income household could afford a median-priced home in 14 of the country’s 25 largest metro areas. The study, by Interest.com, found that Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis are the most affordable markets, while San Diego, New York and San Francisco are the least affordable.

“Dealing with rising expenses and stagnant wages is a struggle,” said Mike Sante, the site’s managing editor. “Even after years of declining home prices and record-low mortgage rates, median-income households are unable to afford a median-priced home in nearly half of the metropolitan areas that we looked at.”

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