The "GoldiLocks" Housing Market
Today the U.S. housing market stands on much firmer ground than it did just a couple years ago.
From 2008 to 2012, news reports bombarded us with nothing but more bad news in regard to housing.
Millions of homeowners faced foreclosure. Home prices continued to drop. No matter how far things fell, we never seemed to hit bottom.
However the market made a dramatic u-turn in the last three ye ars. After bottoming out in 2012, prices rebounded, restoring much of the equity homeowners lost during worst of the housing market crisis. Today, homeowners have more options when it comes to buying and selling a home than at any other point in recent history.
No matter what your situation has been, today’s housing market is full of possibilities. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, now may be a perfect time. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
What makes now a good time to sell?
The housing market has rebounded significantly in recent years. Home prices are up, giving equity back to homeowners who found themselves underwater on their mortgages during the housing market crisis.
What’s more, as the market has recovers, the conditions driving up home prices provide home sellers with more options!
Home Prices and Equity are Up
When the housing bubble burst, home prices went into free fall. Seemingly overnight, homeowners nationwide watched all of the equity in their homes vanish overnight. Millions found themselves underwater on their mortgages, owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth.
After bottoming out in 2012, home prices increased dramatically in 2013 and have been on an upward trend ever since. From the rock-bottom home price in 2012 to the end of 2014, home prices rose by 35% at the end of 20141!
The rising prices helped lift nearly 6 million homeowners from negative equity. Many, however, aren’t aware of just how much things have improved. If you’ve been underwater, it’s entirely possible you aren’t any longer. And if you’ve been waiting to sell until prices recovered, that time is now!
Supply Remains Low, Demand Continues to Increase
Household formation, or the rate at which Americans are setting up homes, increased dramatically at the beginning of last year. In fact, at the end of 2014, household formation quadrupled over 2013. With consumer optimism up and wage and job growth ticking up, experts expect these new households to increasingly make the jump to homeownership..
Additionally, more first-time home buyers have returned to the market this year. Previously sidelined for economic reasons, improved consumer confidence, a growing job market, low interest rates, and new down payment assistance programs are helping more first-time homebuyers, unlocking demand that built throughout the recession.
While demand has been increasing, supply hasn’t kept pace. New home constructions has lagged behind demand, and many homeowners haven’t listed their homes because they haven’t realized how much things have improved. Generally, a 6-month supply represents a healthy balance between supply and demand. So far this year, housing inventory has remained below that mark, giving sellers more power in the process. That means homes are selling faster and for more!
What makes now a good time to buy?
So, with many homeowners escaping underwater mortgages and regaining enough equity in their homes to consider selling, should you think about selling and buying a new home? Or if you’re renting, does it make sense to buy a home now? YES! Let’s take a look at the reasons why…
When considering buying a home, the first question many of us will ask is “How much home can I afford?” Several factors affect how much home you can afford, including home prices, mortgage rates, income, wage growth, and more. Today, home prices remain below their peak prices and mortgage rates have hovered well below historic norms, allowing buyers to get a lot more home for their money.
The National Association of Realtors tracks home affordability across the United States as a relationship between the national family median income and the national median home price. At the end of 2014, affordability for the year finished strong thanks to a slight uptick in the national median income. In Q4 of 2014, in order to purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need to make $45,782, which is well below that national family median income !
Home Prices Will Continue to Increase
While home prices and interest rates are currently low compared to historic trends, they won’t remain this low for long.
Looking forward, the Home Price Expectations Survey polls real estate leaders on their predictions for future price growth. On the most optimistic side, experts projected home prices to rise 27.5% by the end of 2019. On the more pessimistic side, they projects prices to rise 11.7% 2.
At the beginning of this year, wage growth in the United States was estimate to be about 2% this year. With wage growth hardly outpacing inflation let alone the rising home prices, You’ll be able to afford less home the longer you wait!
And so will Interest Rates
Mortgage rates have remained at near historic lows for much of the year. In the early part of 2015, mortgage rates fell below 4% and have remained around that 4% mark for much of the year.
However, Freddie Mac predicts 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgages to rise as high as 4.8% in 2016. Even small changes in interest rates can have a large impact on your monthly mortgage payment.
Renting Just Isn’t Affordable
For those making the first plunge into homeownership, there couldn’t be a better time. Rent rates soared in recent years. High debt rates and a sluggish economy prevented many would-be homeowners from saving enough for a down payment, while lack of overall housing inventory and a general skepticism of the housing market sent demand for rentals through the roof.
The end result is rental payments that are potentially much higher than a mortgage payment would be. In the same report mentioned previously, more than 60% of the polled experts expect rental affordability to worsen for the next 1-3 years before it gets better. Owning a home has never made more financial sense!
Thinking of selling your home?
No matter what your situation has been in recent years, chances are your position has changed! So if you’ve been thinking of selling your home or buying one, now is a perfect time reevaluate where you stand.