Saturday, December 15, 2007

California is another country

Commenter Jim M. points to Housing Tracker as a source for data on house price to income ratios. Here is a list of the top cities in terms of median house price relative to median income.

1. Los Angeles, Ca. 10.5
2. San Francisco, Ca. 9.8
3. NY, NY. 9.4
4. Orange County, Ca. 9.2
5. San Jose, Ca. 9.2
6. San Diego, Ca. 8.8
7. Miami, Fl. 8.5
8. Riverside, Ca. 6.7
9. Boston, Ma. 5.4
10. Sarasota, Fl. 5.4

California has five of the top six. Outside of California, New York City, and Miami, most housing markets may not be far from equilibrium. Remember that my ceiling for a price/income ratio is six, while others peg it at four. But the median price/income ratio might be higher than the ceiling, because median income includes a lot of renters.

Overall, it looks as if prices may have to fall almost 50 percent in the top 7 markets, but in many other markets they don't have to fall at all.