Housing Affordability Falls Across Southern California

May 11, 2021 Updated: May 11, 2021

LOS ANGELES—Housing has gotten less affordable in all Southern California counties, compared to a year ago, a real estate group said May 11.

Statewide housing affordability reached its lowest level since mid-2018, as higher prices fueled by a shortage of homes for sale pushed the state’s median home price more than 22 percent higher on a year-over-year basis, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in the first quarter of 2021 dropped to 27 percent from 35 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the organization said.

The first-quarter 2021 figure is less than half of the affordability index peak of 56 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

Among Southern California counties, Orange County was the least affordable at 20 percent and a median home price of $1 million.

Los Angeles County was at 25 percent affordability for the first quarter, with a median home price of $682,360.

CAR estimated that L.A. County residents would need a minimum annual income of $124,400 to afford the $3,110 in monthly home payments, including taxes and insurance.

Orange County residents would need to earn $182,400 per year to afford average monthly home payments of $4,560.

San Bernardino County was the most affordable at 45 percent and a median home price of $399,000.

Statewide, a minimum annual income of $131,200 was needed to qualify for the purchase of a $720,490 statewide median-priced, existing single-family home in the first quarter of 2021. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $3,280, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 3.08 percent.

Housing affordability for condominiums and townhomes also declined in first-quarter 2021 compared to a year ago, with 40% of California households earning the minimum income to qualify for the purchase of a $535,000 median-priced condominium/townhome, down from 44% a year ago and from 41% in fourth-quarter 2020, C.A.R. said.

An annual income of $97,600 was required to make monthly payments of $2,440.

Compared with California, more than half of the nation’s households, 54%, could afford to purchase a $319,200 median-priced home, which required a minimum annual income of $58,000 to make monthly payments of $1,450, according to CAR’s report.

Nationwide affordability fell from 59 percent a year ago.