Housing Affordability Hits 15-Year Low as Prices, Mortgage Rates Rise

Mortgage rates have risen to 5.78% in early June. At that rate, an average monthly mortgage payment would be $2,127, 51% higher than a year ago and up 36% year to date.

According to Zillow, “Mortgage rates took an unprecedented leap skyward over the past two weeks and quickly multiplied housing costs as they rose,” said Zillow economist Nicole Bachaud. “We are already seeing signs of waning demand, and expect these recent rate hikes to quicken the market’s needed rebalancing. While shoppers will likely experience less competition for homes than the frenzied recent months, their purchasing power has dwindled.”

Incomes are lagging further behind fast-rising mortgage costs, leading to the most significant affordability challenges in the past 15 years. The latest data available from April shows monthly payments taking about 28% of homeowners’ monthly income — dangerously close to the 30% threshold, beyond which is considered a cost burden. With rates now far above April’s average, that share is at or very near 30% already. Zillow data for this metric is available through 2007; the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s Home Ownership Affordability Monitor shows affordability bottoming out in July 2006.

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