Ownership picture improves for families in first quarter

REAL ESTATE WATCH

July 28, 2002

Higher incomes and lower interest rates contributed to making housing affordable for more American families in this year's first quarter, compared with the same period last year, according to a report released last week.

Nearly 65 percent of homes sold in the first three months of 2002 were affordable for families earning the national median income of $54,400, according to the report issued by the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders. Last year, only 57 percent of homes sold were affordable.

"Clearly, this improvement opened the door to homeownership for thousands of Americans, boosting housing's contribution to gross domestic product at a crucial time for the nation's economy," said NAHB President Gary Garczynski.

The national median income jumped 3.6 percent, and the average interest rate dropped to 6.86 percent from 7.21 percent.

Baltimore ranked 70th among metropolitan areas, with 77 percent of homes sold affordable to a family earning the area's median income of $66,400.

The median home sales price in the Baltimore area was $143,000.

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