When the median price of a home in Orange County jumped in November to $176,888, the number of county households which could afford the typical home dropped to only 26%.
In October, 30% of the county's residents had been able to afford the median price of $168,762, according to a monthly survey by the California Assn. of Realtors.
The survey does not cover sales of new homes.
The trade association said an Orange County household needed an annual income of $55,197 to afford the $1,380 monthly payments on the median-priced home.
Affording a house was also a problem--though less severe--throughout the state.
The trade association said 31% of California households could afford a home in November, unchanged since August. The median price dropped by $1,743, to $143,043, but higher mortgage rates canceled out the drop in price.
By contrast, 49% of U.S. households could afford the national median price of $84,200 in November, the association said.
Orange County posted higher housing costs than San Francisco, long the most expensive housing market in the state. But with lower median incomes, only 16% of households in the Bay Area could afford a home.