Monthly payments on U.S. homes jumped 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a year earlier, a survey of 325 counties found.
Online housing marketplace and research firm RealtyTrac said Thursday that the payment bump was the result of a 10 percent average gain in the median price of homes and a 33 percent increase in the interest rates for the average 30-year, fixed rate mortgage.
Although home payments have soared, home ownership remains more affordable than renting a home in most markets, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
On the other hand, he said, home affordability is losing ground due to “still-stagnant median incomes.”
In contrast to the housing market collapse that triggered the recession, the current imbalance in the market is a result of “investors and other cash buyers who are not tethered to the typical affordability constraints,” Blomquist said.
“One simply needs to look at the minimum income needed to qualify for a median-priced home in some markets to realize the extent of the disconnect between prices and income,” Blomquist said.
By example, the minimum income required to buy a median-priced home in Los Angeles County was $68,000 a year ago. That has climbed to $95,000 this year, Blomquist said.
By the numbers, a 30-year, fixed rate loan at 4.46 percent interest, assuming a 20 percent down payment, for a median-priced three-bedroom home cost an average of $865 per month in the fourth quarter of 2013.
A year earlier, all details the same, but assuming a 3.35 percent interest rate, and the average monthly payment came to $714 per month, RealtyTrac said.