The typical American family's ability to buy a median-priced home increased in the first quarter as a result of a drop in mortgage interest rates, rising family income, and a decline in home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors.The NAR's composite Housing Affordability Index stood at 144.1, up from a revised 138.7 in the fourth quarter but down from 144.9 a year earlier. The latest index number means that the typical household in the United States had 144.1% of the income needed to purchase a home at the first-quarter median existing-home price, which was $170,800. "Although mortgage interest rates have risen in the last month, housing affordability conditions remain favorable," NAR chief economist David Lereah said. "There are some challenges in the more expensive markets, but on balance, most of the households in the United States can readily afford a typical home." The NAR can be found online at http://realtor.org.

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