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San Diego at 10 percent

California housing affordability continues to decline as prices keep rising

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LOS ANGELES -- The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 18 percent in March, a three percentage-point decrease compared with the same period a year ago when the Index was at 21 percent, according to a report by the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). The March Housing Affordability Index (HAI) declined 1 percentage point from February, when it stood at 19 percent.

In San Diego County, the percentage of households able to afford a median-priced home dropped to 10 percent in March, down from 11 in February and 15 in March 2004. At the same time, San Diego's median resale price rose to $588,800 in March, up from $580,860 in February and $494,020 a year ago.

C.A.R.'s monthly housing affordability index measures the percentage of households that can afford to purchase a median-priced home in California.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $495,400 in California in March was $115,910, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.81 percent and assuming a 20 percent down payment. The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home was up from $97,290 in March 2004, when the median price of a home was $428,060 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.48 percent.

The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $195,000 in the United States in March 2005 was $45,620.

At 36 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable C.A.R. region in the state, followed by the Sacramento region at 23 percent. The Northern Wine Country and Santa Barbara regions were the least affordable in the state at 9 percent, followed by the Monterey and San Diego regions at 10 percent.

For the neighboring Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the March 2005 affordability index was at 17 percent, the same as February but down from 29 percent in March 2004. Over the same period, the median resale price in Riverside and San Bernardino counties rose fro $274,660 in March 2004 to $342,120 in February, to $347,200 in March 2005.

In next-door Orange County, the affordability index was at 11 percent, the same as February but down from 14 percent a year ago. At the same time, the median resale price rose from $605,560 in March 2004 to $663,600 in February, to $667,200 in March.

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