Less than half of Tulare County can afford a home

Only 47% of Tulare County residents can afford to make the monthly payment for the median home price

TULARE COUNTY – Less than half of Tulare County residents make enough money to buy a home here.

It’s the first time that’s happened here since the housing bubble of the mid 2010s. As of March 31, the end of the first quarter, only 47% of Tulare County residents make enough money, $54,800 per year, to afford the median home price of $300,000, according to the latest Housing Affordability Index numbers released by the California Association of Realtors. The quarterly report shows that percentage has dropped from 49% at the end of 2020 and from 53% at the beginning of last year. The average monthly mortgage payments for Tulare County residents is now nearly $1,400, including principal and interest, taxes and insurance.

Tulare County remains among the most affordable housing markets in the state, only trailing Lassen, Tuolumne, Siskiyou, Shasta and neighboring Kings County and was still more affordable than Kern, Fresno, Merced, Madera and Yolo Counties. Kings and Merced were the only two Central Valley counties to improve their affordability index from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. Fifty-eight percent of Kings County residents make enough money ($51,600) to afford the monthly payment ($1,290) on a mortgage for the median home price ($282,500). In Merced County, 46% of residents make enough money ($57,600) to afford the monthly payment ($1,440) for the median home price ($315,000). The least affordable county in the Central Valley region was San Benito, where less than one-third of residents could afford a home.

The far north counties in California continue to be the most affordable region led by Lassen County, where nearly two-thirds of population can afford to buy a home with the median home price of less than $250,000. Lassen and Shasta were the only counties in the region to drop in affordability with Butte, Plumas, Siskiyou and Tehama all improving on the quarterly report.

Statewide, the percent of residents who can afford a home remain unchanged from the end of last year but dropped 8% in the last year. Currently, just a little more than a quarter of the state’s population (27%) make enough money to afford a home. The average Californian needs to make over $131,000 to afford the $3,200 payment on the state’s median home price of $720,000.

The California housing market is still more affordable than the pre-market crash of 2008. Housing affordability peaked in the first quarter of 2012 at 56% of homebuyers statewide when the minimum annual income needed to buy a home was $56,320. Last year the minimum income needed to buy a home was $114,000 and today the minimum income is $131,200, 133% higher than 2012. The average monthly mortgage payment in 2012 was just over $1,400 and increased to $2,800 last quarter and is now more than $3,200.

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