The National Association of Realtors recently announced that the housing affordability conditions have reached the highest level since record keeping began in 1970.

The housing affordability index measures whether or not a typical family could qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home. The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power. According to the press release issued on March 6, the index rose to 206.1 in January, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate.

An index of 100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming a 20 percent downpayment and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payments. For first-time buyers making small downpayments, the affordability levels are relatively lower.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, says this latest data underscores buyer opportunities in today’s market. “This is the first time the housing affordability index has broken the two hundred mark, meaning the typical family has roughly double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home,” he said. “For buyers who can qualify for a mortgage, now is a very good time to become a homeowner.”

NAR projects the affordability index for all of 2012 will be at an annual high, with little movement in mortgage interest rates or home prices during the year. “Housing inventory levels have declined to a point where conditions are becoming much more balanced in much of the country,” Veissi said. “If access to credit improves, we could see a much more meaningful increase in home sales and broader stabilization in home prices with modest gains in areas with stronger job growth.”

For those of you who are thinking of buying soon or just thinking about new home possibilities, we have a very innovative home search system that can save you a lot of time and minimize frustration in looking for a home. Called the Home Buyer Scouting Report (HBSR), this password-protected, fully-customizable site enables you to view available listings in real-time that match your search criteria, with pictures, prices, address, directions and maps. You can save and track your favorites and receive email updates if the price changes or if the property is sold, and be alerted when a new property that matches your search criteria becomes available. The best thing about it is it’s FREE and without any obligation. Your account can be set up in minutes. Please contact us now if you would like to have your HBSR account started. Our clients who have signed up love the ease and convenience of having the power of information in their hands.