Are buyers struggling to afford the market? Let’s talk about that today. I have some brand new visuals to share (Part I) and then let’s unpack a new study that says Sacramento is the least affordable area for new homes (Part II). What are you seeing in your area regarding affordability? I’d love to hear.
UPDATE: News just broke about Zillow exiting the market for good. I’ll talk about that next week on my blog (but now on social channels).
PART ONE: Affordability
1) Duh, affordability is going down: It’s no surprise to see affordability diminished in recent years in the United States, California, and locally. Prices have risen and while mortgage rates have been a game-changer for affording higher prices, affordability is still taking a hit. Here are some visuals I made based on data from the California Association of Realtors (CAR) (here).
2) What was affordability like during the “bubble” days? How many people could afford to buy before the market crashed? According to CAR data in 2006 only about 12% of buyers could afford the median price in California, 10% of buyers in the United States, and 21% of buyers in Sacramento. In contrast, this same index today shows 23% of buyers in California can afford a median-priced home, while it’s 50% of buyers in the United States and 38% of buyers in Sacramento. Keep in mind just because you cannot afford the median price doesn’t mean you cannot afford to buy at a lower price.
California: This visual tells the story that 23% of households in California are able to afford a median-priced home. I suspect many states are more affordable than California, but I’d love to hear any specifics from any onlookers. As CAR points out, affordability was at the peak in 2012. See full report from CAR here. As a side note, there are thirty seven counties in California where fewer buyers can afford the market compared to Sacramento County. But Placer, Yolo, and El Dorado are all less affordable, so when we look at regional data this pushes Sacramento as a whole to be less affordable (though nowhere close to the Bay Area and coast).
PART TWO: Sacramento made the top of the list
A new report says Sacramento is the least affordable area in the country for brand new homes. This report from a company called Knock has gone viral. The Sacramento Bee wrote about it here. I even had an out-of-state family member forward me a national TV show talking about the subject.
A few things:
1) This is only about new homes: Understanding the fine print helps us interpret what is and isn’t being said. For instance, this study from Knock only focuses on brand new construction. In Sacramento 12% of the market is said to be brand new homes, which means this report doesn’t apply to 88% of the market. In other words, when people start saying stuff like, “Bro, Sacramento is the least affordable place in the country,” that’s NOT what this study is saying.
2) Brand new vs used: The median price for a brand new home is said to be $650K compared to $550K for older homes. This highlights the reality of how much more expensive new construction can be at times and also how difficult it is to build affordable housing too (but that’s a different post). Keep in mind some of this price difference could have to do with newer units being larger too. Anyway, it’s not a massive shocker to see fewer buyers able to afford a home priced $100,000 or 18% higher than older units. Check out Knock’s research below. I know, the font is tiny. Click the image for a larger version.
3) Is the resale market 80% unaffordable? This study says 80% of households in Sacramento are not able to afford a brand new home at the median price of $650,000. That’s a sobering stat that most of us wish was different. But does this mean 80% of buyers cannot afford homes that are not brand new (aka “resale” homes)? Nope. According to the California Association of Realtors 38% of households last quarter could afford the median price in Sacramento County and most other local counties range anywhere from 31-35% (see visual). To say this negatively, 62-69% of buyers can’t afford the median price in the Sacramento region (the percentage varies depending on the county). Ultimately it’s clear affordability is better in the resale market, but the stats at 62-69% don’t sound incredibly encouraging either, right?
4) Buyers are engaged: It’s easy to say stuff like, “The market is not affordable”, but does that line up with actual stats? Are buyers pulling the trigger at current prices or are they stepping on the brakes? For now despite affordability declining in recent years, volume has been really steady locally and buyers have had a voracious appetite. So despite weakening affordability buyers have been getting it done. Anyway, stay tuned for fresh stats in coming weeks.
Let me stop before this becomes a dissertation.
Stephen Forrester: I did not know Stephen, but he was an appraiser who tragically passed recently. Here is a GoFundMe to help him out.
Questions: What stands out to you most above? What are you seeing and hearing regarding affordability? What did I miss?