The five most affordable major U.S. housing markets

Buyers still wondering if conditions finally are perfect for jumping into the housing market can look at five major U.S. metropolitan areas to get a resounding "yes" to that question.

Super-low interest rates -- a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.42% for the week ending Thursday (last year at this time it was 5.12%), according to Freddie Mac -- and home prices still languishing has made housing in several metro markets about as affordable as it ever will get, according to a just-released National Assn. of Home builders and Wells Fargo survey.

"Homeownership is within reach of more households than it has been for almost a generation," says NAHB chairman Bob Jones.