California housing market notably improving

Real estate records from 2012 showed gradual gains to home prices throughout much of the country, while some markets in California were barely affected by the recession. In reports from the final quarter of last year, the California Association of Realtors revealed that affordability was less prevalent, as the median home price for properties in the Golden State have significantly recovered.

Data from the CAR found that those looking to invest in a median-priced home would have to make a minimum income each year of $66,940 to afford the $353,190 price. While monthly payments can vary depending on the rate offered to prospective buyers and the mortgage option they select when applying.

When looking at who could afford to purchase a home in the fourth quarter of 2012, the report found that 48 percent of California residents could do so comfortably. This is down from the third quarter when 49 percent were able to purchase a median-priced property and a drop from the fourth quarter a year earlier when 55 percent could make the investment.

Some regions still considered more affordable than others
According to data found, some counties remained affordable, including Contra Costa, Napa, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Cruz and Fresno. The Home Affordable Index in both San Bernardino and Kings were at 76 percent, making them the most affordable in the state.

Unlike these counties, many coastal regions including San Francisco, Riverside and Santa Barbara had the least affordable buying opportunities, with just 22 percent of those living in San Francisco able to purchase home priced at the state's median level.

While affordability may seem less available in California, national average mortgage rates have been considerably low in recent months and continue to linger near record low levels set throughout 2012. Those looking to make the investment may feel at ease that economists don't foresee average rates rising above 4 percent in 2013. This time last year, averages pushed near 4 percent, leaving current rates still in line with affordability.

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