I am sure you’ve heard the headlines: Interest rates are rising. Homeownership is no longer affordable. The real estate market is headed for a bubble. While what is being said in the news media attracts attention, it’s critical to take a broader look at the housing market and historical trends to understand what’s actually occurring.
Housing affordability is still high.
The U.S. Housing Affordability Index (HAI) surpassed 155 this January. That means the average U.S. family has 155 percent of the income needed to purchase a home. This is higher than at any time between 1980 and 2008—when the housing market downturn took place.
Price appreciation is up. Median home prices continue to appreciate, albeit at a much more moderate and healthy pace than during the years before the 2008 real estate downturn. The National Association of Realtors in its U.S. Economic Outlook for March predicted a 2.2 percent rise in prices this year.
Interest rates remain at historic lows. Mortgage rates reached 18 percent in 1981, averaged in the 8 and 9 percent range in the 1990s and were in the 5s and 6s, on average, in the 2000s. Conversely, we’ve had rates in the 4 percent range throughout 2018 and 2019.
Economic conditions remain strong. Unemployment figures are down and positive wage growth is being reported, both pointing to a strong economy with high levels of consumer confidence. As of March 2019, unemployment declined to 3.8 percent, down from 8.3 in 2009.
One doesn’t have to be an economist to clearly see that we are in a very stable real estate market. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, now’s a great time to do so. Even if you are not looking to sell and just want a competitive market analysis on your current home, I can help with that, too. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for any of your homeownership needs. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
P. Dennis Connelly, GRI, CRS