Home values are up. Can you still afford to buy?


Home prices in California are going up and will probably continue to do so. Does that mean they are less affordable?

The news can be misleading and confusing as it recently touted the significant move higher in the median home price, currently up 15% nationally versus last year. And 14.3% in Sacramento County, says the Sacramento Association of Realtors. 15% sounds awfully high. But the median home price does not measure appreciation. Instead, it marks the middle price point of recent home sales. 

With a substantial lack of inventory for lower-priced homes, more transactions occur for higher-priced homes, which pushes the median home price higher.

The actual Sacramento home price appreciation rate was about 1.25% for the last quarter, or 5% annualized. And it is forecasted to increase by a similar margin next year. So have you been priced out of the market?

The short answer is no, or at least not yet. California’s affordability factor has improved year over year because mortgage rates are down by almost a full percent, and incomes have gone up (Avg. weekly net pay is up 5.7% year over year nationally). Also, remember, only a portion of your income goes towards paying your mortgage. A 5% rise in income can offset a much more significant percentage rise in housing expense.

Let’s assume your monthly earnings did not improve from last year. Consider a buyer’s max purchase price of a new home, based on his/her income and debt was $450,000 last year. Maybe this buyer decided to wait because they were nervous about the market. Now, that home is worth about $472,500.

As a mortgage professional, if I were to use the same income and debt structure I used last year, this buyer would now afford a home for $490,000. This tells us that homes are actually more affordable, even though they have appreciated.

Granted, I am using very simple math here, and this does not get into down payment or cash required to purchase this home but is purely to show you the media doesn’t’ always get it right. Take the time to work through these numbers with a mortgage professional you trust, and don’t give up your dream of homeownership!

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