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Homebuyer affordability declined in March as with the national median payment applied for by purchase applicants increasing 1.6% to $2,093 from $2,061 in February, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Purchase Applications Payment Index (PAPI).

The national PAPI rose to 171.5 in March from 168.9 in February, a record high. One year earlier, the PAPI was at 147.1.

MBA also noted the national median mortgage payment for FHA loan applicants was $1,755 in March, up from $1,707 in February and from $1,254 in March 2022, while the national median mortgage payment for conventional loan applicants was $2,145, up from $2,117 in February and from $1,819 in March 2022.

“Homebuyer affordability remained constrained in March as elevated mortgage rates and low inventory kept prices high, leading many prospective homebuyers to delay decisions to enter the market,” said Edward Seiler, MBA’s associate vice president of housing economics and executive director of the trade group’s Research Institute for Housing America. “The affordability index hit a new survey high last month, with both the typical purchase application amount and monthly payment rising on a monthly and annual basis. While many prospective buyers currently remain on the sidelines, MBA expects mortgage rates to decline slowly as the year progresses, which will help with affordability and may spur sales activity.”