Nationwide housing affordability hit new highs in this year’s first quarter, according to the latest reading of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released May 25. During that time, 74.6% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. That’s better than the previous high of 73.9% established during the fourth quarter of 2010, and marks the ninth consecutive quarter in which the index has risen above the 70% level.

Before 2009, the HOI rarely topped 65% and never reached the 70% margin. The bottom line: Homeownership is now within reach of more households than it has been for more than two decades — at least it should be, if not for tight credit conditions that are impeding both builders and buyers right now.

In the Greenville area, the Housing Opportunity Index is 77.9. That means that 77.9 percent of the available homes in the market are affordable to a family earning the median household income for the market of $58,000 per year.