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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, February 11, 2002

Homes in California now more affordable

By Simon Avery
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The number of California households able to afford their own home increased in December to 34 percent, up from 32 percent a year ago, according to an industry study.

The improvement was driven by low mortgage interest rates, which continued to offset rising property values in December as they had throughout the year, the California Association of Realtors said.

Despite the improvement, the gap between what Californians can afford and what the rest of the country can is widening.

Nationwide, 57 percent of American households could afford to buy their own home in 2001, up from 55 percent in 2000, the realtors association reported.

This compares with 33 percent of California households for all of 2001.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California rose 13.8 percent to $276,940 in December, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the association's report.

Regionally, Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus remained among the most affordable counties in the state while the San Francisco Bay area remained one of the most expensive.

However, the slowdown in the technology sector has cooled this once red-hot property market.

In San Francisco County, 15 percent of households could afford to own in December compared with 10 percent a year earlier, according to the realtors association.