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It's always More of the Same

May 23, 2011

More of the Same

By Mark Fogarty  
The National Association of Home Builders for the first time has added race and ethnicity data to the quarterly housing affordability survey it has produced for the past 20 years. That's all to the good. The story the new data tells, however, is an old one.
NAHB found that 80.3% of white families nationwide could afford the median-priced home of $178,000 based on their media family income of $69,000. But African-American, Hispanic and American Indian affordability were all more than 20 points lower than that. And Asians managed to have a higher median income than whites ($80,500) but not a higher affordability ratio, 76.4%.
Some of the individual metropolitan statistical areas proved even more disparate. Take the New York City MSA, where just 8.8% of Hispanics and 15% of American Indians could afford the median-priced home of $430,000. However, since even whites only had 46% of families who could afford that median-priced home, this proves what we've thought all along-New York is completely unaffordable.
San Francisco is similarly unaffordable, with a median price of $599,000. Just 7.7% of blacks and 8.3% of Indians could afford that ticket. Nearby San Jose was also mostly unaffordable to anyone, with a median home price of $451,000. Los Angeles was also unaffordable to everybody except whites, at 68.2%.
Looking for an affordable place to live? Try Mansfield, Ohio. Its median price of $75,000 was affordable to 95.4% of MSA residents. All minorities had affordability ratios in the 90s, except for African-Americans, at 87.5%.
Michigan cities are pretty affordable right now. Detroit's median home costs just $86,000, and is affordable to 90.2% of MSA residents. Flint manages to edge it out, at $85,000 median, affordable to 91.8% of all people. These are sad stories on both the high and low ends. Detroit's affordability comes at the expense of the loss of a quarter of its residents in 10 years.
MSAs approximately equal or at least fairly close to African-Americans and whites in 2010 affordability included Boulder, Colo., Olympia, Wash., and Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif. MSAs approximately equal in affordability between Hispanics and whites included Akron, Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville and Port St. Lucie, Fla.
African-American affordability exceeded whites' in just four places with population of more than 250,000,


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