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) -- The United States has the most affordable housing market among comparable nations, according to an international housing affordability survey.

The eighth

Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

covers affordability, measured as median house price divided by gross annual median household income, across 325 metropolitan markets in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K, the U.S. and Hong Kong in China- countries where housing affordability indices have had similarities in the past.

The survey focuses on housing affordability within metropolitan markets because national housing data "can mask significant differences between metropolitan markets."

A median multiple of 3 or below is considered affordable, while those markets with a house price to income multiple of 5.1 and above is considered severely unaffordable.

In 2011, U.S. was the best performing national housing market overall in terms of affordability, with the median multiple coming in at 3, same as that of 2010. Ireland, which is also suffering from the brunt of a financial crisis sparked by a destructive housing bubble, ranked the second most affordable, with a multiple of 3.3.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have severely unaffordable housing markets, with the median multiple of 12.6, followed by Australia at 5.6, New Zealand at 5.2 and the United Kingdom at 5.1.

Among the 81 major metropolitan markets- those with a population of over 1 million, 24 had affordable housing. All of them were in the United States. Detroit was the most affordable major market, followed by Atlanta. Phoenix and Las Vegas, which saw serious unaffordability during the peak, have significantly more affordable homes now, with the median multiple at 2.2 and 2.4 respectively.

Rochester(New York), Cincinnati and Cleveland also ranked high on affordability.

Out of a total of 211 metropolitan markets surveyed in the U.S., 117 were most affordable, 64 were moderately affordable, 16 seriously unaffordable and 14 severely unaffordable.

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Housing affordability had improved considerably since 2006, when there were fewer than 1.3 affordable markets for each severely unaffordable market. Today, there are more than 8 affordable markets for each severely unaffordable market

Honolulu was the least affordable of all markets, with a Median Multiple of 8.7. Outside the major markets, Santa Cruz, CA (in exurban San Jose) and San Luis Obispo, CA each had a Median Multiples of 6.6 and were severely unaffordable, along with Boulder, CO (in exurban Denver), Barnstable Town, MA (in exurban Boston), Bridgeport, CT (in exurban New York), Santa Rosa, CA (in exurban San Francisco) and Oxnard-Ventura, CA (exurban Los Angeles), according to the survey.

The five least affordable housing markets overall were outside the U.S. led by Hong Kong, Vancouver and Sydney.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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