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The recent changes in home prices are top of mind for many as the housing market begins gearing up for spring. It can be hard to navigate misleading headlines and confusing data, so here’s what you should know about today’s home prices.
Local price trends still vary by market. But looking at national data, Nataliya Polkovnichenko, Ph.D., Supervisory Economist at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), explains:
“U.S. house prices were largely unchanged in the last four months and remained near the peak levels reached over the summer of 2022. While higher mortgage rates have suppressed demand, low inventories of homes for sale have helped maintain relatively flat house prices.”
Month-over-month home price changes can be seen in the chart below. The data also shows that price depreciation peaked around August. Since then, any depreciation has been even milder. In other words, today’s home prices aren’t in a freefall.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you currently own your house, you may be concerned about even the smallest decline in prices. But keep in mind how much home values grew over the last few years. Compared to that growth, any declines we’re seeing nationally are likely to be minimal. Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, shares:
“. . . while prices continued to fall from November, the rate of decline was lower than that seen in the summer and still adds up to only a 3% cumulative drop in prices since last spring’s peak.”
It’s also important to remember that every local market is different. That’s why it’s essential to lean on an expert for the latest information on the home prices in your area if you’re planning to make a move this spring.
To understand what’s going on with home prices in our market and how they could impact your goals, let’s connect today.
The biggest challenge the housing market’s facing is how few homes there are for sale. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explains the root causes of today’s low supply:
“Two dynamics are keeping existing-home inventory historically low – rate-locked existing homeowners and the fear of not finding something to buy.”
Let’s break down these two big issues in today’s housing market.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the average interest rate for current homeowners with mortgages is less than 4% (see graph below):
But today, the typical mortgage rate offered to buyers is over 6%. As a result, many homeowners are opting to stay put instead of moving to another home with a higher borrowing cost. This is a situation known as being rate locked.
When so many homeowners are rate locked and reluctant to sell, it’s a challenge for a housing market that needs more inventory. However, experts project mortgage rates will gradually fall this year, and that could mean more people will be willing to move as that happens.
The Fear of Not Finding Something To Buy
The other factor holding back potential sellers is the fear of not finding another home to buy if they move. Worrying about where they’ll go has left many on the sidelines as they wait for more homes to come to the market. That’s why, if you’re on the fence about selling, it’s important to consider all your options. That includes newly built homes, especially right now when builders are offering concessions like mortgage rate buydowns.
What Does This Mean for You?
These two issues are keeping the supply of homes for sale lower than pre-pandemic levels. But if you want to sell your house, today’s market is a sweet spot that can work to your advantage.
Be sure to work with a local real estate professional to explore the options you have right now, which could include leveraging your current home equity. According to ATTOM:
“. . . 48 percent of mortgaged residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich in the fourth quarter, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loan balances secured by those properties was no more than 50 percent of their estimated market values.”
This could make a major difference when you move. Work with a local real estate expert to learn how putting your equity to work can keep the cost of your next home down.
Rate-locked homeowners and the fear of not finding something to buy are keeping housing inventory low across the country. But as mortgage rates start to come down this year and homeowners explore all their options, we should expect more homes to come to the market.
Avoid the Rental Trap in 2023
If you’re a renter, you likely face an important decision every year: renew your current lease, start a new one, or buy a home. This year is no different. But before you dive too deeply into your options, it helps to understand the true costs of renting moving forward.
In the past year, both current renters and new renters have seen their rent go up based on information from realtor.com:
“Three out of four renters (74.2%) who have moved in the past 12 months reported seeing their rent increase. The strain from recent rent hikes isn’t exclusive to renters who have recently moved. Nearly two-thirds of renters (63.2%) who have lived in their current rental between 12 and 24 months, and likely renewed their lease, have also reported increases in their rent.”
And if you look back at historical data, that shouldn’t come as surprise. That’s because, according to the Census, rents have been rising fairly consistently since 1988 (see graph below):
So, if you’re considering renting as an option in 2023, it’s worth weighing whether this trend is likely to continue. The 2023 Housing Forecast from realtor.com expects rents will keep climbing (see graph below):
That forecast projects rents will increase by 6.3% in the year ahead (shown in green). When compared to the blue bars in the graph, it’s clear that the 2023 projection doesn’t call for an increase as drastic as the ones renters have seen over the past two years, but it’s still above the historical average for rent hikes between 2013-2019.
That means, if you’re planning to rent again this year and you’ve not yet renewed your lease, you may pay more when you do.
Homeownership Provides an Alternative to Rising Rents
These rising costs may make you reconsider what other alternatives you have. If you're looking for more stability, it could be time to prioritize homeownership. One of the many benefits of owning your own home is it provides a stable monthly cost that you can lock in for the duration of your loan. As Freddie Mac says:
“Monthly rent payments may increase over time, but a fixed-rate mortgage will ensure that you're paying the same amount each month. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked in for the life of loan. Steady payments allow you to budget wisely and make plans for the future.”
If you’re planning to make a move this year, locking in your monthly housing costs for the duration of your loan can be a major benefit. You’ll avoid wondering if you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for annual increases like you would if you left your housing payment up to your landlord and their renewal cycle.
Homeowners also enjoy the added benefit of home equity, which has grown substantially. In fact, the latest Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic shows the average homeowner gained $34,300 in equity over the last 12 months. As a renter, your rent payment only covers the cost of your dwelling. When you pay your mortgage on a house, you grow your wealth through the forced savings that is your home equity.
If you’re thinking of renting this year, it’s important to keep in mind the true costs you’ll face. Let’s chat to see how you can begin your journey to homeownership today.
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