IN CALIFORNIA, THE GAP BETWEEN THE median household income and qualifying income needed to buy a house jumped a staggering 47.9 percent in the third quarter of 2004, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors' Homebuyer Income Gap Index. In the third quarter of 2003, the gap stood at $37,440, while in the third quarter of 2004, the number came in at $55,370.

“Sales hit an all-time high in November as consumers snapped up single-family homes at a record pace,” said CAR president Jim Hamilton. “The median price of a home in California continued its upward march, increasing by double digits for the 36th month in a row to $473,260.”

The association tracks the disparity in a quarterly analysis of the difference between the median household income and the qualifying income needed to purchase a median-priced, single-family home for the state and selected regions within the state.

According to the report, buyers in the Central Valley, with a median household income of $40,640, had the smallest gap at $27,030 and needed a qualifying income of $67,670 to purchase a median priced home of $288,960. However, the San Francisco Bay area had the highest gap at $82,910, where buyers had a median income of $68,430 but needed qualifying income of $151,340 to purchase a median priced home at $646,280.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.