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Opportunity index hits record high

A new index tells us the "opportunity" to own a home is at it's highest level in 20 years. So why aren't more of us buying?

The pulse is down today on this realization: no matter how you spin it, the housing market in America is still broken.

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, 75.9 percent of all homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2011 could have been “comfortably purchased” by families earning the national median income of $64,200. The highest percentage recorded in the two-decade history of the index.

Great. Let’s go buy a house! Not so easy, is it?

While the HOI may be grounded in good arithmetic and even better intentions, for those struggling in the real world of modern-day homeownership, that nugget feels less like a helpful statistic and more like a taunt.

The reality of purchasing a home in today’s economy is far less rosy, to say the least. Millions are underwater on their homes, and those with some cash and a decent job face straightjacket-tight lending restrictions. Add in a shadow inventory of homes in all stages of foreclosure, and it’s going to take more than spin to wake America from its housing nightmare.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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