After inventory and affordability challenges in 2018, prospective home buyers may have better chances of scoring a property this year. Affordability will remain an issue in some high-priced markets, says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale, but overall, the national market is looking brighter for buyers who have stayed on the sidelines. Here’s why.
More homes are for sale. For the last few years, a limited number of listings has given buyers fewer choices. But housing experts predict more robust inventory this year. “For buyers, there is going to be more inventory, so that’s a bright spot,” Hale says. “The downside of that bright spot is it might not be in their price range.” The supply of homes for sale under $300,000 may not grow significantly, but they’re also not decreasing, she adds.
Home price growth is slowing. Home prices will still rise but at a much slower pace than the last few years. Hale predicts a 2.2 percent increase in home prices this year, down from last year’s nearly 5 percent growth. “We do still anticipate rising home prices, particularly for below-median-priced homes, so buyers in that price range may have some incentive to buy sooner rather than later,” Hale says. On the flip side, “as rising costs raise the bar to homeownership, some would-be buyers will be knocked out of the market. [That means] remaining buyers may have less competition to contend with than they saw in 2018.”
Mortgage rates are lower. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has backed away from the 5 percent mark, decreasing early this year. That means lower borrowing costs for buyers. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41 percent last week. “That’s definitely a huge opportunity for buyers because it drastically improves affordability,” Hale says. “And I think that if these low rates persist for a little while, then we’ll actually see stronger sales than we originally forecast.”