Homes become less affordable as prices climb in Stanislaus County

08/17/2014 5:13 PM

08/18/2014 10:02 AM

Stanislaus County homes became less affordable this spring, but sales prices dipped a little in July, just-released reports show.

Home prices have swung up and down wildly over the past decade, and so have affordability rates. When sales prices rise, fewer families can afford to buy.

That’s what happened this spring, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

Only about 53 percent of the homes sold in Stanislaus in April, May and June were affordable to families earning the county’s median income of $52,700 per year.

That affordability rate is significantly lower than it was in early 2012, when nearly 93 percent of Stanislaus homes sold for affordable prices. Stanislaus still was in the grips of the recession then, and median-priced homes were selling for about $129,000.

Much has changed since then. Home prices have been climbing pretty steadily the past 18 months or so, but median family income levels have declined, according to the economic statistics used by the index.

A 53 percent affordability rate sounds bad compared with 93 percent, but it looks great compared with the 3 percent of Stanislaus homes that were considered affordable during the 2005 housing boom. Homes were selling for a median $396,000 back then.

Stanislaus’ median home price in July was a much more reasonable $214,250, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. That was a more than $10,000 drop from June, but it was about $7,000 more than what homes sold for in May.

That shows how home prices continue to jump around.

The cost of buying a home also varies greatly depending on what’s purchased and where.

The 27 new homes sold in Stanislaus County last month went for a median $258,250 each. Existing condominiums, by contrast, sold for a median $114,250.

Oakdale homes had the highest median price last month, $280,500, while Waterford had the lowest-priced homes, with a $164,500 median.

Homes are a bit more affordable in Merced County, and a bit less affordable in San Joaquin County.

About 49 percent of San Joaquin’s homes sold this spring for a price affordable to that county’s median-income families. The median sales price in San Joaquin in July was $257,000.

More than 58 percent of Merced County’s homes were considered affordable this spring. Merced’s July home sales figures have not been made available from DataQuick, but the affordability index estimated Merced’s median sales price this spring was $175,000.

Statewide, by comparison, the median price paid for a home in July was $392,000, which was $1,000 less than in June, but 8 percent more than a year ago.

The least affordable housing region in the United States is the metropolitan area including San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. Only 11 percent of its homes sold this spring were affordable to families there, even though their median income is $100,400 per year.

This explains why: The median sales price of San Francisco homes last month was $991,000.

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