Housing becoming more affordable nationally, locally
Median price of homes dropped across Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis area in 2014

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Feb. 20, 2015

WAUKESHA - Lower interest rates and home prices across the country contributed to an increase in nationwide housing affordability at the end of 2014, as the median price of a home in the metropolitan Milwaukee area, as well as the rest of the country, decreased as the year concluded.

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, the national median price of a home dropped from $220,800 in the third quarter of 2014, to $215,000 in the fourth quarter. The study, which was released on Thursday, shows the median price of a home in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis region also fell - from $170,000 in the third quarter to $165 in the fourth quarter.

“This upturn in affordability for the final quarter of 2014 is a positive development and is in line with what we are hearing from builders in the field that more prospective buyers are starting to move forward in the marketplace,” NAHB Chairman Tom Woods said in a statement.

In all, 62.8 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900. This is up from the 61.8 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the third quarter.

In the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis region, those numbers were even higher. Three-quarters of homes sold over that period were affordable to local families where the median income was reported at $70,300. Those numbers put the area in 106th place when compared with all regions, and in 35th place in the Midwest region.

Syracuse, NY claimed the title of the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 92.8 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $67,700.

Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Akron, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; the latter two of which tied for fourth place.

The Duluth, Minn.-Wisconsin area also ranked 22nd nationally and 11th in its region with affordable homes available to 87.4 percent of it residents making a median income of at least $64,300.

“Affordable home prices, historically low mortgage rates and an improving job market will release pent-up demand,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said, “and help keep the housing market moving forward in the year ahead.”