Palm Beach County in affordability “crisis”? Depends on your point of view

With its rising home prices, below-average wages and lack of new construction, Palm Beach County often is said to be in the throes of an affordability “crisis.”

But how dire is the crisis? That depends.

Compared to prohibitively expensive housing markets like those in California, we look like a bargain. In San Francisco, for instance, just 11.8 percent of homes sold in the first quarter of 2017 were in the price range of a median-income family, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo affordability index.

Other cities are oases of affordability. In Cleveland, fully 87 percent of homes were affordable for a typical buyer.

In Palm Beach County, some 60 percent of homes sold here in the first quarter were in reach of a family making $67,700, according to the NAHB index. It says the median home price here was $222,000, a figure that includes single-family homes, condos and townhouses.

So, compared to metro areas where housing is cheap and wages are high, Palm Beach County looks prohibitively expensive:

But measured against expensive markets, we look like a bargain:

Intriguingly, Palm Beach County’s affordability measure is similar to affordability levels in such cities as Austin, Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City and Asheville, North Carolina.

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