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Realty Check

Home affordability sinks as housing slows

Real estate agent Jenn Smira installs an open house sign in the front yard of a home for sale in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates are a toxic cocktail for homebuyers, pushing affordability down dramatically.

Prices are up more than 12 percent from a year ago, according to several reports, and the average rate on the 30-year fixed is a full percentage point higher than it was last spring. It is now far harder for the average U.S. household to afford a home.

"The simple fact is that the very small improvement Americans have seen in their paychecks hasn't kept pace with a jump in home prices and mortgage rates," said Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com.

Of the top 25 housing markets, just eight are considered "affordable" for a median-income household, according to a new report from Interest.com. That is down from 14 affordable markets last year. The reason is largely that incomes, which are up just about 3 percent from a year ago, are not keeping pace with home prices.