Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

February 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates fell to 4.42 percent this February, down 0.2 percent compared to 4.43 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in February moving the index down 2.7 percent from 164.0 to 159.6. The median sales price for a single family home sold in February in the US was $243,400 up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were down one basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points) while median family incomes rose 2.9 percent.

  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 8.5 percent. The South had an increase of 5.4 percent while the Midwest had a gain of 4.6 percent. The Northeast had the smallest incline in price of 2.9 percent.
  • Regionally, three of the four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Northeast had a slight gain of 0.6 percent. The West had the biggest decline of 5.8 percent. The South followed with a drop of 2.4 percent. The Midwest had the smallest decline of 1.3 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is up from last month in two of the four regions. The South had a decline of 3.9 percent followed by the West with a dip of 3.3 percent. The Midwest had an increase of 2.6 percent followed by the Northeast, which had the biggest, gain in affordability of 3.4 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 212.8. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 110.0. For comparison, the index was 160.3 in the South, and 176.6 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently up 4.9 percent. Foot traffic is up which shows there are plenty of potential homebuyers. Even though rates are slightly down from a year ago, they are rising. Incomes are still being out paces by home prices. Affordability continues to be an issue especially in regions where housing supply is tight.
  • 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.