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Report: Housing affordability rising in Merced

Merced is still one of the least affordable housing markets in the country, but for the second quarter in a row, the area’s affordability picture has brightened.

New data from the National Association of Homebuilders show that 9.7 percent of homes sold during the last quarter of 2007 were affordable to families earning Merced’s median income of $46,800. The median home price during that period was $261,000. The NAHB considers a house affordable if a family spends no more than 28 percent of its income on mortgage payments.

That figure puts Merced near the top of a nationwide list that no city wants to be on — the least affordable places to buy a house. But a long-term look at the numbers shows cause for mild celebration. Merced’s affordability rate has improved since the height of the housing boom in the third quarter of 2005, when 2.5 percent of houses on the market were affordable.