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Salt Lake-area home affordability low

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WASHINGTON — Housing affordability along the Wasatch Front ranks in the bottom third nationally, a new study says.

The National Association of Home Builders Tuesday released its "Housing Affordability Index" for the third quarter of 2001, determined by comparing the average costs of homes in major metropolitan areas with the median family incomes there.

It figured that a family earning the median income in the Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area could afford to buy only 61.4 percent of the homes sold there during the third quarter of 1991.

It was worse in the Provo-Orem metro area, where such a family could afford to buy only 54.6 percent of the homes sold there.

With that, Salt Lake City-Ogden ranked 121st out of 186 metro areas studied nationally in affordability, and Provo-Orem ranked 141st.

The study said the average cost of a home in Salt Lake City-Ogden that quarter was $156,000, while the median family income there was $54,300.

In Provo-Orem, the average home cost was $153,000, while the median income was $47,300.

Nationally, the average home cost was $161,000, and the median family income was $52,500.

The most affordable housing in America was in Rockford, Ill., where a median-income family could afford 89.4 percent of homes sold. The average home cost there was $99,000, and the median income was $57,100.

The least affordable housing in the nation was in Santa Cruz, Calif., where a median-income family could afford a mere 6.9 percent of homes sold. The average home cost there is a whopping $420,000, while the median income is only $65,500.

The Association of Home Builders said that housing affordability dipped slightly in the third quarter of 2001 but remained on solid ground as mortgage rates were low.

"In July through September of last year, interest rates on adjustable and fixed-rate mortgages hit their lowest point since early 1999, easing the way for potential buyers to qualify for a home purchase," said association president Bruce Smith.


E-MAIL: lee@desnews.com