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75,000 closed home loans for HUD's FHASecure

National Mortgage Professional
Mar 10, 2008

Despite housing downturn, most American families remain priced outMortgagePress.comhomeownership, rental affordability, registered nurses, retail salespersons, food preparation workers New study details changes in homeownership and rental affordability Homeownership has become slightly more affordable during the current housing downturn, but still remains far out of reach for the majority of workers nationwide, according to "Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America." This new study compares housing costs in more than 200 U.S. metropolitan areas with the wages earned by workers in 60 occupations and was recently released by the Center for Housing Policy (CHP), the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference (NHC). Specifically, when looking at the five highest-growth occupations—registered nurses, retail salespersons, customer service representatives, food preparation workers and office clerks (in order of growth)—based on median annual income, homeownership is unaffordable for all five occupations in the majority of the 201 metro areas studied. Even registered nurses, who have relatively higher salaries, are unable to purchase a median-priced home in 108 of the markets, which represents only a marginal improvement when compared to 114 metro markets that were unaffordable to these workers in 2006. The second-highest paying occupation of these five, customer service representatives, cannot afford to buy a home in 185 of the markets. Retail salespersons and food preparation workers were priced out of all 201 markets, representing, surprisingly, no change in homeownership affordability for these workers in today's economy. In coordination with the release of this study, the CHP is also launching, a new online guide focused on solutions for solving the nation's affordable housing challenges at the state and local level. "We hear a lot about the 'information economy,' but the fact is most working families are still employed in traditional service occupations," said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the CHP. "In many metro areas, these families continue to face home prices and rents that are beyond their means, and as a result, employers have a difficult time attracting a quality workforce." Affordability problems persist According to the study, the amount of income needed to purchase the median-priced home dipped in 161 of the 201 markets studied. Some of the biggest drops occurred in the largest, most expensive markets in California, Washington, Washington, D.C., Arizona and Florida. Yet in almost all cases, affordability problems persist. Only a handful of markets previously not affordable to registered nurses, customer service representatives and office clerks were affordable to those workers in 2007. In the majority of markets, homeownership remains unaffordable for these occupations. For retail salespersons and food preparation workers, homeownership is out of reach in all markets studied. While rental housing is affordable to a greater range of workers, workers in low-wage occupations continue to struggle to afford the rents in many metro areas. Retail salespersons and food preparation workers cannot afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in any of the 210 markets in the rental portion of the study. Office clerks cannot afford to rent without paying an excessive portion of their income for housing in 94 of the 210 markets. The other high-growth occupations fare much better. Customer service representatives are priced out of the rental market in only 41 metro markets, while registered nurses are able to afford the rents in all 210 markets. For more information, visit or
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