World’s most affordable and unaffordable housing markets in 2016

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Demographia has released its 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey which covers 406 metropolitan housing markets (metropolitan areas) in nine countries (Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States) for the third quarter of 2016.

The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey rates middle-income housing affordability using the “Median Multiple,” which is the median house price divided by the median household income.

The Median  Multiple is widely used for evaluating urban markets, and has been recommended by the World Bank and the United Nations and is used by the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University. The Median Multiple and other price-to-income multiples (housing affordability multiples) are used to compare housing affordability between markets by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, The Economist, and other organizations.

Historically, liberally regulated markets have exhibited median house prices that are three times or less that of median household incomes, for a Median Multiple of 3.0 or less.

Demographia uses the following housing affordability ratings .

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According to the survey, there are 11 affordable major housing markets in 2016, all in the United States. Rochester is the most affordable, with a Median Multiple of 2.5, followed by Buffalo (2.6), Cincinnati (2.7), Cleveland (2.7), Pittsburgh (2.7), Oklahoma City (2.9), St. Louis (2.9) and four at 3.0, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis and Kansas City.

There are 26 severely unaffordable major housing markets in 2016. Again, Hong Kong is the least affordable, with a Median Multiple of 18.1, down from 19.0 last year. Sydney is again second, at 12.2 (the same Median Multiple as last year). Vancouver is third least affordable, at 11.8, where house prices rose the equivalent of a full year’s household income in only a year. Auckland is fourth least affordable, at 10.0 and San Jose has a Median Multiple of 9.6.

The least affordable 10 also includes Melbourne (9.5), Honolulu (9.4), Los Angeles (9.3), where house prices rose the equivalent of 14 months in household income in only 12 months. San Francisco has a Median Multiple of 9.2 and Bournemouth & Dorsett is 8.9. San Diego has a Median Multiple of 8.6 and London 8.5, the same as last year. Toronto has a Median Multiple of 7.7, like Vancouver, showing a year-on-year house price increase equal to a year of household income.

There are 99 affordable housing markets of all sizes including 82 in the United States, 10 in Canada, 4 in Australia and 3 in Ireland (Table ES-3). The most affordable market is Racine (WI) in the United States, with a Median Multiple of 1.8.

There are 94 severely unaffordable markets, with 36 (of 262) in the United States, 33 (of 54) in Australia, 11 (of 33) in the United Kingdom, 7 (of 40) in Canada, 6 (of 8) in New Zealand and the one market in China. Singapore, Japan and Ireland have no severely unaffordable housing markets.

The least affordable among the smaller markets is Santa Cruz (CA) in the United States, with a Median Multiple of 11.6.

Source: Demographia

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