While October's California Housing Affordability Index remained unchanged from September, the number of people who could afford to purchase median-priced homes in Los Angeles decreased sharply from the year earlier.

The monthly index, released Dec. 9 by the California Association of Realtors, showed that 17 percent of Los Angeles households could afford to purchase a median-priced home in October. While that percentage was the same as the previous month's, it was seven points lower than the 24 percent who could afford a home in October 2003, when the median L.A. County home price was $369,370. The median home price in October was $458,170, down slightly from September's $458,590.

Statewide, 19 percent of the population could afford to buy a home, down from 25 percent in the year-earlier period. The median home price statewide in October was $460, 370.

The areas with the highest levels of affordability were the High Desert and Central Valley coming in at 42 percent and 26 percent, respectively. The least affordable market was Santa Barbara County, where only 9 percent of people could afford to buy a median-priced home. The median-priced home in Santa Barbara County was $609, 850 in October.

Nationwide, the median home price was $187,000 in October.

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