$158,000 – Orange County Register

San Bernardino County remains the most affordable place in Southern California to buy a house, while Orange County is the least affordable, new housing cost figures show.

During the spring quarter, a typical homebuyer needed to earn $157,950 a year to afford the median priced Orange County house, the California Association of Realtors reported Wednesday, Aug. 9. That assumes the buyer used a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and made a 20 percent down payment.

Home prices, and the minimum incomes needed to afford them, both have risen about 50 percent in the past five years.

Just 21 percent of Orange County households earned enough to afford the typical $3,950-a-month house payment on the median price of $788,000 for an existing single-family home, the Realtor group reported.

By comparison, the median house price in San Bernardino County was $269,640 during the April through June period, commanding a monthly payment of $1,350, CAR reported. The minimum income needed to afford that home was $54,050 a year.

To be affordable, a monthly payment must be 30 percent or less of a household’s gross earnings, CAR assumes.

The minimum income to afford an Orange County home increased $51,000 over the past five years, CAR figures show. However, thanks to rising incomes, the “affordability rate” —  or the percent of households that can afford the median priced home — has been relatively steady for the past four years. For example, Orange County’s affordability rate fell to a post-recession low of 20 percent in the fall of 2013, and has fluctuated between 20 and 23 percent ever since.

In Los Angeles County, 28 percent of households could afford the median house price of $514,220 and a monthly payment of $2,580 last spring, CAR reported. The minimum annual income needed to afford that house was $103,070.

In Riverside County, 39 percent of families could afford a median house price of $380,000 and a monthly payment of $1,900. The minimum income to afford the typical Riverside County house was $76,170.

Statewide, 29 percent could afford the median-priced house, which required an annual income of $110,890, CAR reported. That’s double the annual income needed when affordability reached its highest level five years ago.

Still housing is cheap compared to 2006, near the peak of the pre-recession housing bubble.

CAR figures show that just 10 percent of Orange County households could afford a median priced home back then. Just 9 percent of Los…

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