LOS ANGELES — Driven by low mortgage rates, the number of California households able to afford their own home grew to 34 percent in October, according to an industry study released Thursday.
The 3 percent increase from the same period a year ago represents the biggest jump in more than a year in the Housing Affordability Index, released monthly by the California Association of Realtors.
Even though more than one-third of California households can now afford to own a home, that’s still far below the national average of 59 percent.
The biggest factor in the affordability increase has been the Federal Reserve’s ongoing interest rate cuts, which have pushed down mortgage rates.
“Mortgage interest rates fell more than one percentage point in October compared to a year ago, which has helped offset an 8.5 percent increase in the median price of a single-family home in California,” Robert Bailey, president of CAR, said in a statement.
The results from CAR reflect a wide range of California home prices region to region.
San Francisco remained the most expense county in the state, where a family needed a minimum income of $130,375 in October to afford the median priced home of $515,060. Just 16 percent of households could afford to buy a house, although that number represents an improvement over last year, when only 11 percent of the population could buy.
The most affordable area in the state in October was Kern County, where 62 percent of households could afford their own home. The median home price was $105,789.
The greatest year-to-year regional improvement in October was in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, where affordability climbed 12 percentage points to 30 percent, as the median home price fell to $481,000 amid the tech downturn from $527,220 a year earlier.