December 16, 2019 at 11:23am | Blair Schwisow
There are many ways to look at housing affordability in Boise—but if you’re a typical prospective
homebuyer, the one that makes a real difference isn’t found in the real estate statistics. The truly decisive
“affordability” factor is the dollar amount of the mortgage payment that goes with the price of the home.
It’s either affordable or it isn’t.

It's a well-publicized fact that U.S. home prices have risen dramatically since the end of the Great
Recession. That would seem to mean that average housing affordability over that period has been in
decline—especially early in the recovery when incomes were rising slowly (if at all). Since then, many
commentaries have pointed out a “housing affordability gap” that (along with a shortage of homes for
sale) has been used to explain lackluster market activity.

For most of Boise’s prospective homebuyers, all that is background noise. It might keep some from
even starting to look for a new house, but when circumstances dictate that it’s time to find a new home,
true “housing affordability” comes down to those monthly cost figures. And the actual numbers are
headed in the right direction.

The final 2019 statistics won’t be in until long after the Waterford crystal ball has dropped in Times
Square, but as of this summer, the “typical mortgage payment” has actually shrunk year over year. That
was Corelogic’s finding, published this summer. By September, TheMortgageReports contributor Aly
Yale could write, “home prices might be up, but American mortgage payments are actually falling.” She
found that the average monthly payment had dipped a full 6% from a year earlier. In fact, compared with
the all-time high reached in June 2016, she calculates that “current typical payments” have plummeted by
32%!

Actual Boise housing affordability is a family-by-family budget calculation. Still, given the
analysts’ findings, those who have been discouraged by talk of a housing affordability gap might want to
pull out a calculator to see what today’s market offers. I’ll be waiting by the phone with more information
if the numbers look good!

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