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Record-low interest rates and slumping home values have combined to push the state’s housing affordability index to a level matching record highs set in 2009, the California Association of Realtors is reporting.

Fifty-five percent of Californians can afford to own a median-priced existing single family home, according to the Association’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index. These figures assume a median home price of $282,350, which requires a minimum income of $57,750 per year. Monthly payments for such a property, including estimated taxes and insurance, would be about $1,440. The big assumption in these figures, however, is that the average buyer has access to a down payment of 20 percent, or $56,470, plus closing costs of several thousand dollars.

Local affordability numbers were less upbeat, with 45 percent of San Diegans capable of affording a home in the region. This number is still an improvement from 42 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and 40 percent a year ago.

The Reader reported yesterday that while local real estate values continue to slide, some in the industry believe prices may hit bottom before the end of 2012.

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