For the fifth quarter in a row, Indianapolis, Ind., has claimed the title of most affordable major U.S. housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). This is the fifth consecutive time that the city has been named at the top of the affordability chart.
Meanwhile, on a national basis, housing affordability remained virtually unchanged from the second quarter despite a sizeable increase in the average mortgage interest rate for the July-September period.
"Today's HOI reading indicates that 40.4 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold during the third quarter were affordable to families earning the median U.S. income of $59,600," said NAHB President David Pressly, a home builder from Statesville, N.C. "This indicates that housing affordability barely budged between the second and third quarter, in part because higher mortgage rates in the period were offset by somewhat lower home prices in many markets."
The HOI indicates that the national weighted interest rate on fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages - a key component in calculating the HOI - was 6.77 percent in the third quarter, a full 12 basis points above what it was for the previous three months.
In the nation's most affordable major housing market of Indianapolis, just under 86 percent of homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the median household income of $65,100. The median sales price of all homes sold in the metro area during that time was $122,000 - up slightly from $120,000 in the previous quarter.
Also near the top of the list for affordable major metros in the third quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; followed by Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich., in that order.
Seven smaller metro markets outranked all others in terms of housing affordability during the third quarter, including Bay City, Mich. at the top of the list; Springfield, Ohio; Mansfield, Ohio; Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.; Lima, Ohio; Battle Creek, Mich.; and Canton-Massillon, Ohio.
Also maintaining its previous standing on the HOI was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., which was the nation's least affordable major housing market for an eighth consecutive quarter. There, only 1.8 percent of new and existing homes sold during the third quarter were affordable to those earning the area's median family income of $56,200. The median sales price of all homes sold in the area during the period was $523,000.
Other major metros at the bottom of the housing affordability chart were all in California, including: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Modesto, Stockton, and San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, in that order.
Among metro areas smaller than 500,000 people, California once again scored every entry at the bottom of the affordability chart. Earning least-affordable honors were: Salinas, Merced, Madera, Napa, and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, Calif., respectively.
Readers can visit www.nahb.org/hoi  for tables, historic data and details.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo HOI is a measure of the percentage of homes sold in a given area that are affordable to families earning that area's median income during a specific quarter. Prices of new and existing homes sold are collected from actual court records by First American Real Estate Solutions, a marketing company. Mortgage financing conditions incorporate interest rates on fixed- and adjustable-rate loans reported by the Federal Housing Finance Board.