Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

March 2019 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month but up from a year ago. Mortgage rates were down from last month at 4.51 percent this March, and down 2.6 percent compared to 4.63 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability inclined from a year ago in March moving the index up modestly 0.1 percent from 152.5 to 152.7. The median sales price for a single family home sold in March in the US was $261,100 up 3.8 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were down 12 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was up from last month at 16.4 percent this March and no change from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 22.6 percent of income. The South had the second highest payment at 16.0 percent followed by the Northeast at 15.3 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.0 percent.

  • Regionally, the Midwest recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 4.7 percent. The West had an increase of 3.4 percent while the Northeast had a gain of 2.4 percent. The South had the smallest gain in price of 1.9 percent.
  • Regionally, three of the four regions saw an incline in affordability from a year ago. The Midwest was the only region with a decline of 1.8 percent. West had the biggest gain in affordability of 2.6 percent. The South had an incline of 1.8 followed by the Northeast with a modest gain of 0.4 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in three of the four regions while the Northeast had the only gain of 0.4 percent. The Midwest region had the biggest decline of 4.9 percent. The South had a dip of 2.1 percent followed by the West, which had the smallest drop in affordability of 1.3 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 192.2. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 110.7. For comparison, the index was 155.8 in the South, and 163.8 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications and credit availability are currently up and new home purchase applications declined. Median family incomes are growing 2.6 percent while home prices increased 3.8 percent. Inventories continue to grow helping tame price growth. Interest rates have dropped three months in a row, which will lower mortgage payments for future homebuyers.

  • 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.