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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Reports and Publications

Fewer Families Could Afford to Buy Homes in 2009 than in 1984

29 May 2013
U.S Census Bureau

Approximately 50% of American families (both current owners and renters) could afford to purchase a modestly priced home in the state where they lived in 2009. This percentage is the lowest since 1984, the earliest year that these reports recorded. In 1984 60.4% of families could afford to purchase a home. A modestly priced home is one that is among the 25 percent least expensive owner-occupied homes in the area where a family lives.

The U.S Census Bureau recently released Who Could Afford to Buy a Home in 2009?, the seventh in a series of report that began in 1991 that assesses the affordability of buying a home in America.  Data in this report reference May through November 2009 of the 2008 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).

In 2009 66.5% of owner families could afford a home while 7.1% of renter families could. Homeownership affordability also varied by race. About 1 out of 5 non-Hispanic White married couples who rented could qualify to buy a modestly priced home, while about 1 in 20 Black married couples who rented could buy a home. About 76 per¬cent non-Hispanic White married-couple homeowners could afford to relocate to a modestly priced home in the area where they lived, compared with 63 percent of Black married-couple owners.

The Midwest had the highest affordability with 56% of families able to purchase a modestly priced home. The Northeast came in second with 53% and the West had the lowest affordability with 41%. All four regions saw affordability declines from 2004 to 2009.

Click here to read the full report.