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Home Prices Are at the Highest Level Since 2008

According to third-quarter reporting by ATTOM Data Solutions, U.S. home affordability indicates that today's housing prices are at the least affordable level in 10 years. Data curators calculate this index based on the income requirements homebuyers must meet to purchase a median-priced home relative to historical averages in the area.

An index above 100 indicates home prices are more affordable, while a rating below 100 means listing prices are on the rise. Nationwide, this number has dropped from a promising 102 in the third quarter of 2017 to today's shaky 92. An astounding 78 percent of U.S. counties analyzed came back with an affordable index less than the country's long-term averages.

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president for ATTOM Data Solutions, blames the push in home prices on rising mortgage rates, while Seattle-based Windermere Real Estate's chief economist Matthew Gardner reasons that previous skyrocketing growth in the local economy led to the current lull. Until income catches up with home values, the median homebuyer is now able to put in offers that are significantly less than before.

Home prices are rising faster than wages in 86 percent of local markets, and they're on the upswing. The third quarter of 2018 saw median home prices settle at $250,000. Since the housing market bottomed out in January of 2012, home prices have increased 76 percent, while the average family income has seen only an average 17 percent increase over that same six-year time frame.

This widening trend in the real estate market means that close to one-third of the U.S. population must earn a minimum of $100,000 a year to purchase a median-priced home - with 3 percent down. Of these communities, five counties in California's Bay area led the list, followed by Westchester and Kings counties in New York and homes in Washington D.C., Boston, and Hawaii.