Becoming Less Affordable

Bloomberg is quoting the National Association of Realtors in declaring that starter-home affordability is declining, as the share of one’s income to purchase a first home has climbed to more than 23% (from about 14% in 2012). Housing prices are outpacing wage growth at this time. The increase in mortgage rates earlier this year has not helped either.

This issue is particularly acute in “hot” markets, such as New York and San Francisco, where it takes nearly 65% of one’s income to afford a house. Bubble anyone? It wasn’t much better in either Los Angeles (59%) or Miami (55%).

Couple the rising housing costs with the growing burden of student loan debt, and one can quickly see why funding for self-directed retirement accounts remains sketchy, at best. We have seen participation rates grow, but the average contribution remains well below levels needed to adequately fund one’s retirement.

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