Key points from the fourth-quarter 2022 Housing Affordability report include:
• Compared to the previous quarter, housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2022 improved in 10 counties, remained unchanged in 13 counties and declined in 28 counties. Not one single county saw an improvement in affordability from a year ago, although Tehama and San Mateo counties remained unchanged on a year-over-year basis.
• In the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, affordability declined from the previous quarter in Solano and Sonoma, increased in Napa, and remained flat in the other six counties.
• In the Southern California region, housing affordability fell in four counties from third-quarter 2022 and remained unchanged in two counties. San Bernardino County was the most affordable in the region at 29 percent of households able to purchase the $458,000 median-priced home.
• In the Central Valley region, Glenn and Kings counties were the most affordable at 35 percent, and San Benito was the least affordable at 18 percent.
• In the Central Coast region, Santa Cruz County was the most affordable at 13 percent, and Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo were the least affordable at 11 percent.
• For the state as a whole, Lassen (54 percent) remained the most affordable county in California in the fourth quarter of 2022, followed by Tehama (40 percent) and Shasta (39 percent). These three counties were also the only counties whose affordability index was higher than the national index of 38 percent. Lassen also had the lowest minimum qualifying income ($59,200) of all counties in California to purchase a median-priced home and was the only county in the state with a qualifying income less than $60,000.
• Mono (7 percent) and a two-way-tie between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo at 11 percent, were the least affordable counties in California, with each of them requiring a minimum income of at least $210,000 to purchase a median-priced home in the respective counties. San Mateo County continued to require the highest minimum qualifying income to buy a median-priced home in fourth-quarter 2022 and was one of four counties in California — all in the Bay Area — that required a minimum qualifying income of more than $400,000 in the fourth quarter of 2022. Other counties with a minimum qualifying income over $400,000 include Marin ($402,400), Santa Clara ($401,600) and San Francisco ($401,200).
• On a year-over-year basis, housing affordability declined the most in Kings County, falling 18 points from fourth-quarter 2021 to fourth-quarter 2022. Del Norte and Lake followed closely behind, with each county dropping 15 points year-over-year in the last quarter of 2022. The surge in mortgage rates, along with elevated home prices, continued to be the primary factors for the plunge in affordability in these counties.