May 2, 1996 in Nation/World

Low Mortgage Rates Boost Affordability

From Staff And Wire Reports

The ability of the typical American family to buy a previously owned home was boosted by low mortgage rates during the first quarter to the highest level in two years.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday its Housing Affordability Index, which measures affordability for both first-time and trade-up buyers, was 131.6 during the first three months of the year.

The latest reading, up from 129 in the October-December period and 126.9 in the first three months of 1995, was the highest since 137.4 in the first quarter of 1994.

When the index measures 100, a family earning the median income has exactly the amount needed to purchase a median-priced existing home, using conventional financing and a 20 percent down payment.

In the first quarter, the index was 131.6, meaning half of the families had at least 131.6 percent of the income needed to qualify for the purchase of a home at the national median price of $114,700.

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