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Homes in Utah among least affordable in U.S.

Homes in Utah are among the least affordable in America, according to a new study that not only figures in home prices but also the average income of families.

In fact, Utah had three of the 16 least affordable housing markets in the nation, according to the National Association of Home Builders.Worst among them was the Provo-Orem metro area (including all of Utah County), ranking 185th out of 195 areas evaluated nationwide for the third quarter of 1997.

The study said an average-income family there (making $41,800 a year) could afford to buy only 41.4 percent of the houses actually sold in the area (which had a median sales tag of $139,000).

Close behind it in unaffordability - and ranking an also-dismal 181st out of 195 - was the Salt Lake-Ogden metro area, which includes Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties.

An average-income family there (making $47,700) could afford to buy only 44.1 percent of houses sold in the area (which the study said had a median price of $155,000).

The Wasatch Front wasn't the only hard-to-afford area in Utah.

The study said the 16th least affordable metro area housing market in America was the Flagstaff, Ariz.-Kanab, Utah market - which Washington bureaucrats link into one metro area even though they are separated by the Grand Canyon and a four-hour car drive.

The study said an average family in Flagstaff-Kanab (making $40,899 a year) could afford to buy only 44.8 percent of the houses sold there (which had a median price of $137,000.)

To compare, the study said median-income families nationwide could afford to buy 64.3 percent of the homes sold through the first three quarters of the year.

The nation's most affordable housing market was Kokomo, Ind., where average-income families could afford 94.6 percent of the homes sold. The median family income there is $46,900, and the median home price was $69,000.

San Francisco was the nation's least affordable housing market. With a median home sale price of $315,000 and a median family income of $64,400, average-income families could afford to buy only 20.7 percent of the homes sold.

Don Martin, president of the homebuilders association, said, "Housing affordability remained steady through the third quarter with low mortgage interest rates offsetting a price increase."