Palm Beach County housing affordability declines to nine-year low

11:19 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 Business
Jeff Ostrowski/Palm Beach Post

Just 55.9 percent of homes sold in Palm Beach County in the fourth quarter of 2017 were affordable for a median-income family, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo affordability index. That was the lowest level of affordability since 2008.

The index is based on a median home price of $255,000, a figure that includes houses and condos, and a median income of $67,900.

Related: Amid affordability squeeze, builder markets $300,000 houses

Housing advocates fear that Palm Beach County’s rising prices and stagnant wages equal an affordability crisis. However, the local picture mirrors national trends. Nationwide, homes sold in the fourth quarter were in reach of 59.6 percent of families, according to the index.

Builders have ramped up construction of entry-level homes. In one example, Pulte Homes hosts a grand opening Saturday of its Preston Square townhouse community in Palm Springs. The project, along Congress Avenue south of Forest Hill Boulevard, includes 160 homes starting at $253,990.  

Pulte’s Dave Achee called the project a “rare opportunity for someone to break the rental cycle and achieve home ownership without breaking the bank.” 

Nationally, affordability varies widely. Youngstown, Ohio, and Syracuse, New York, are the most affordable markets. In both places, fully 88.3 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were in reach of a median-income family.

As usual, San Francisco, with its seven-figure median price, is the nation’s least affordable market. Despite median income of $113,000, just 6.3 percent of homes sold there are affordable to a typical family.