Thursday, March 18, 1999

Oahu ranks 165th in
home affordability

By Russ Lynch


Once again, Honolulu has ranked near the bottom of a national cost of living survey, this one addressing the affordability of buying a home or condominium.

Comparing the median home and condo sales price with the region's median income, the National Association of Home Builders ranked Honolulu as 165 out of 186 U.S. metropolitan areas. The group figured that only half the families with median income could afford to buy the median-priced home in Honolulu.

"At least you're not as bad as San Francisco," said Gopal Ahluwalia, a spokes-man for the association. He said San Francisco has had the least affordable housing in every quarter since the first quarter of 1991, when the association started its housing opportunity index.

The figures for Honolulu for the fourth quarter of 1998 show a median home price -- the level at which half the homes and condos sold for more and half sold for less -- of $220,000. The association derived that figure from transactions officially recorded in Honolulu. Honolulu's median family income, calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was $59,600.

In San Francisco, where the median sales price was $350,000 and the median family income was $68,600, only 19.9 percent of the homes were within reach of the family at the median income level.

The most affordable place in the country to buy a home was Kokomo, Ind., the study found. The median sales price in Kokomo was $87,000 and the median family income there was $50,800, bringing the median-priced home within reach of 92.3 percent of median-income families.

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