Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

May 2017 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates increased to 4.01 percent this May, up compared to 3.83 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in May moving the index down 5.4 percent from 161.8 to 153.0. The median sales price for a single family home sold in May in the US was $254,600 up 6.0 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 18 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points) while incomes rose 2.4 percent.
  • Regionally, the Midwest and the West shared the biggest increase in price at 7.4 percent. The South had an increase of 5.0 percent. The Northeast had the smallest incline in price of 4.9 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The West had the biggest decline of 7.3 percent. The Midwest followed with a decline of 6.8 percent. The South had a decline of 5.0 while the Northeast had the smallest decline of 4.6 percent.
  • By region, affordability is down from last month except in the South where there was no change. The Midwest had the biggest decline of 3.5 percent followed by the Northeast who had a decline of 2.9 percent. The West had the smallest decline in affordability of 2.3 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region is the Midwest where the index is 187.8.  The least affordable region remains the West where the index is 109.2.  For comparison, the index is 154.8 in the South, and 158.2 in the Northeast.
  • Mortgage applications are currently down this week. Housing activity and consumer confidence is up but providing for demand remains a challenge. More new construction will help improve home ownership rates and tame price growth.
  • 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.