The recent tax reform added two provisions that could impede first-time homebuyers.  Under the new tax law, the standard deduction has doubled to $24,000 for married couples ($12,000 for individuals), pushing the threshold home price to benefit from itemized deductions to the $400,000 range for married couples. This, in conjunction with a limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes, including property tax, could restrain home purchases, which have already slowed in the first six months of the year. Rising interest rates in conjunction with steady home price appreciation have also lifted the monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home more than $130 in the first half of the year. The rise has pushed the monthly payment more than $300 above the average monthly rent for an apartment. The widening affordability gap, still-stringent home-loan underwriting standards and the limited availability of entry-level homes remain an impediment to first-time homebuyers.