US housing was less affordable at the national level in August than it was at that time the year before, according to the latest National Association of Realtors (NAR) housing affordability index.
As the median price for a single-family home was up 5.1 percent year-over-year in August, the affordability index dropped 1.4 percent to 157.7 during that same period, down from 160 in August 2014.
“A value of 100 means that a family with the median income [according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census] has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home,” according to NAR.
The higher the index is above 100, the more affordable a home is for a family earning the median income based on a 20 percent down payment. An index reading of less than 100 means such families would not qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home.
Graphic: National Association of Realtors
Year-over-year, the index dropped, signaling less affordable home prices in all regions tracked: the South, Northeast, Midwest and West.
Out west, the home of some of the hottest local real estate markets in America, the affordability index took the biggest hit. There, the affordability index was down 2.9 percent and prices were up 10 percent.
The region that was least impacted was the Midwest, which saw an index decline of 0.7 percent, though prices rose 7.2 percent year-over-year.
Month-over-month, the outlook for potential homebuyers in August was more upbeat. The index rose in every region partly thanks to mortgage rates that were down 9 basis points year-over-year to 4.15 percent and incomes that grew by just over 2 percent, said NAR.
Monthly shifts aside, the Midwest comes out on top for affordability with an index of 198, with the South following at 166.1. The Northeast was in third with an index of 153.4, and the West rounds out the list at 117.2.