One in every four U.S. county housing markets were less affordable than their historic affordability averages during the first quarter of 2017, according to new research from ATTOM Data Solutions. In this research report, an affordability index below 100 means that the share of averages wages needed to buy a median-priced home is above the historic average for a given market. ATTOM Data Solutions determined that the national affordability index in the first quarter was 103, down from 108 in the previous quarter and down from 119 a year ago to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008. A total of 95 counties out of 379 counties analyzed for this research, or 25 percent, recorded an affordability index below 100 during the first quarter—the highest share of markets below the normal affordability index of 100 since the fourth quarter of 2009. Separately, new research from Zillow has determined that rental affordability is worst in minority neighborhoods than in predominantly white communities. Nationally, renters in predominantly black neighborhoods can expect to spend 43.7 percent of their income on rent, according to Zillow, while renters in Hispanic communities can expect to spend 48.1 percent of their income on rent. In comparison, renters in predominantly white communities can expect to spend 30.7 percent of their income on rent.
Through PACE loans, state and local governments provide homeowners with up to 20-year loans to finance energy efficiency home improvements, secured by tax liens attached to the property. In the event that the property is sold before the PACE loan is paid in full, the loan may transfer to the next owner of the property. Critics have claimed that many PACE lenders do not adequately underwrite the loans to ensure that homeowners can repay them and often neglect to fully explain the loans' terms to consumers.