How Long will Home Prices Rise Across the U.S.?

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Home prices on the rise – the topic that has flooded the news, including here. The fallout from the pandemic has undoubtedly made its mark on all aspects of the economy. But the housing market differs from other industries in that it’s stronger than ever… for the seller. High demand and low interest rates keep pushing home prices up, igniting bidding wars across the nation. According to Realtor.com, median sale prices went up 17.2% year over year in April. Now, that number is so large partly because at this time last year we were hitting the worst of the pandemic for the real estate market. But the median home price – $375,000 – still marked a record high.

But for how long? If you’re a buyer, have you begun to wonder whether or not to wait out the market? If you’re selling, you may want to know how quickly to list your home. To demystify what’s happening in the real estate market right now (and in the future), let’s take a close up look at why prices are so high right now, what will curb that rise, and when the experts expect that to happen.

What’s Causing Home Prices to Increase?

First off, let’s understand why what causes home prices to rise, and which are at play right now. It’s possible you’ve heard nervous chatter about the possibility of another housing bubble, like the one that caused the 2008 recession. We won’t go into too many details (though you can read our assessment on this issue here). But safe to say that nearly every expert out there agrees we aren’t in the same situation as we were in 2008. At that time, banks were regularly approving subprime mortgages, subprime borrowers were accepting them, and there was a surplus of construction.

Now, what we’re looking at is an actual, rather than “artificial” demand, and low supply. Here’s a breakdown of how that came to be:

  • Covid (and Pre-Covid) Demand. The suburbs had already risen in popularity before the global pandemic drove more and more people to want more and more space. Single family homes then became the most desired, and also the least listed.
  • Lumber Prices Up. Lumber prices have soared even more than home prices since the onset of Covid-19. The National Association of Homebuilders clocks that rise at 300% since April 2020. Their estimate puts that at $36,000 added to the price of a new home.
  • Low Interest Rates. The pandemic has kept interest rates at reasonable, or even record-breaking lows. That makes buying a home more attainable for consumers.
  • Millennials. Love ’em, hate ’em: millennials are now one of the largest demographic groups in the nation. And they’re entering the age at which many people choose to buy a home. Supply, meet demand.

What Needs to Happen to Stem Rising Home Prices?

So we’ve got a handle on why home prices are increasing. But what needs to happen in order for them to decrease? Any combination of the following factors would stem the flow of rising home prices.

  • More New Construction. Partly due to the high lumber prices referenced above, new construction has slowed. April saw a big hit, according to the U.S. Census. New starts for single family homes dropped by 13.4% from March to April. With supply at a low, a surge in new construction would slake demand.
  • More Existing Homes for Sale. Likewise, if a flood of existing homes came on the market, balance would be restored. In the past three months, existing home sales have consistently declined, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • Buyers Being Priced Out of the Market. Whether due to higher interest rates or a continuous rise in home prices, if enough buyers get priced out of the market, supply and demand will find a better balance. Buyer pessimism is at an all-time high, as the latest statistics from Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index show. The question everyone is waiting on, then, is when will buyer pessimism outweigh buyer determination?

Will Home Prices Rise in 2022?

So, when can we expect some of these counteracting influences to kick in? There’s no strict formula to predicting the future of the housing market. But we can turn to some of the country’s top experts for reasonable expectations. With an eye towards that expertise, we’ve gathered up the following projections from trusted analysts.

  • The National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, Lawrence Yun, has publicly stated to the New York Times, Vox, and others that he believes prices will continue to rise but not at the current rate. In the short term, rising prices and bidding wars are likely to continue. But as early as the last quarter of 2021, interest rates may go up. Yun predicts that in the coming year we’ll see a decline in multiple offers but that prices will still be higher than they are now – just not astronomically.
  • In early May, Ali Wolf, chief economist at building consultancy Zonda, made a similar statement to Realtor.com. Wolf postulates that prices will continue to rise, but again, at a slower pace as we enter 2022.
  • CoreLogic, an analytics company that provides the leading data on housing prices, recently tipped Forbes to look towards the end of the year when more buyers will be priced out. They predict more new construction and lower demand.

Will Home Prices Decrease in 2022?

The predictions we’ve gathered above do seem to reach a consensus. According to the experts, there won’t be a bubble that suddenly pops. Instead, prices are likely to continue increasing, just at a more gradual pace as the market recovers from the aberration that is Covid-19.

Remember, though, moderately increasing prices isn’t necessarily all bad news for buyers! Not a lot of people buy property without expecting it to appreciate. On top of that, we’ve reached a time of year during which home prices typically go up. There are ways to get the best price possible – from working with a top agent to knowing the best time of year to buy or sell. And for those who are feeling priced out, don’t count out down payment assistance programs, which the Biden administration has plans to expand upon.

When you’re ready to take the plunge, get in touch with our top 1% buyers agents or top 1% sellers agents. They’re prepared to get you the most out of your real estate transaction, no matter what the market is up to!

May 26, 2021
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call him direct: 503-714-1111 for Oregon or 360-470-7777 for Washington.

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