Nearly 92 percent of homes sold in Stanislaus County in October, November and December were considered affordable for the county’s median-income families. At the 2005 peak of the county’s real estate boom, median-income families could afford only 3 percent of the homes sold.
The collapse of the real estate market changed that. Stanislaus County housing now is ranked the 17th most affordable among the nation’s 225 metropolitan communities. Merced County ranked 19th (91.2 percent of homes sold were affordable), and San Joaquin County ranked 68th (86.4 percent affordable). The national affordability rate is 75.9 percent.
It’s very unusual for a California community to rank high on the affordability index, which typically is dominated by communities in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and West Virginia.
The affordability index, formally called the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, has been measured since 1991. It is based on actual home sale prices and income levels in each community, and mortgage interest rates are factored in to determine the cost of home ownership.
Although homes may be more affordable than ever to buy, many families that have been foreclosed on cannot qualify for home loans despite their current ability to pay mortgages.
Fortunately for them, rental rates have dropped. The average asking rent for Modesto apartments was $795 in 2011, compared with $806 in 2006, according to RealFacts.
The valley’s housing market continues to suffer, but foreclosures have slowed and the unemployment rate appears to have stabilized. Still, the region’s market isn’t keeping pace with the rest of the state.
Statewide, however, home sales last month were being propped up by buyers taking advantage of foreclosures and slumping prices in a weak market, according to DataQuick.
There were 28,111 new and existing homes sold in California in January, DataQuick reported. Sales were down 25.5 percent from December a normal seasonal decline but up 1.5 percent from January 2011.
Sales have increased for the past six months on a year-over-year basis, DataQuick reported.
DataQuick said foreclosures and short sales made up more than half the sales of existing homes.
Mortgage payments also continued to plummet. The typical payment last month was $893. Adjusted for inflation, that was the lowest since at least 1988, DataQuick said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.