Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

August 2017 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month but down from a year ago. Mortgage rates increased to 4.19 percent this August, up compared to 3.74 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in August moving the index down 8.4 percent from 163.7 to 149.9. The median sales price for a single family home sold in August in the US was $255,500 up 5.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 45 basis points from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points) while median family incomes rose 2.2 percent.
  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 7.8 percent. The Northeast had an increase of 5.8 percent while the South had a gain of 5.4 percent. The Midwest had the smallest incline in price of 4.8 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The West had the biggest decline of 10.8 percent. The South followed with a decline of 9.1 percent. The Midwest had a decline of 8.2 while the Northeast had the smallest decline of 8.1 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is up from last month in two of the four regions. The South had the biggest incline of 2.5 percent followed by the Midwest, which had an incline of 2.1 percent. The West and Northeast both shared a decline in affordability of 0.7 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 187.2. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 106.2. For comparison, the index was 151.6 in the South, and 151.7 in the Northeast.


  • Mortgage applications are currently down. Inventory shortage remains with the speed of transactions moving at face pace. Rates are steady, since prices drop the qualifying income decreases and more people can afford to buy a home. While median family income increased and qualifying income decreased, housing affordability will rise and homes will become more affordable.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.