Dispelling the Myth About Home Affordability
Is a home affordable? We have all seen the headlines that report that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in the last ten years, and those headlines are accurate. But, have you ever wondered why the headlines don’t say the last 25 years, the last 20 years, or even the last 11 years?
The reason is that homes were less affordable than they are today 25, 20, or even 11 years ago.
Obviously, buying a home is more expensive now than during the ten years immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history.
Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) that were selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many distressed properties that the prices of non-distressed properties in the same neighborhoods were lowered and mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.
Low Prices + Low Mortgage Rates = High Affordability
Prices have since recovered and mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has and will continue to impact housing affordability moving forward.
However, let’s give affordability some historical context. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issues their Affordability Index each month. According to NAR:
“The Monthly Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent monthly price and income data.”
NAR’s current index stands at 146.7. The index had been higher each of the last ten years, peaking at 197 in 2012 (the higher the index the more affordable houses are).
But, the average index between 1990 and 2007 was just 123, and there were no years with an index above 133. That means that homes are more affordable today than at any time during the eighteen years between 1990 and 2007.
With home prices continuing to appreciate and mortgage rates increasing, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is not an attainable goal in most markets, as it is less expensive to buy today than it was during the18-year stretch immediately preceding the housing bubble and crash.
In real estate, the spring is often seen as the ideal time to buy or sell a house. The term “Spring Buyer’s Season” exists for a reason, as renters and those looking to move on from their current home thaw out from the winter and hit the market ready to buy.
According to Bank of America’s annual Home Buyer Insights Report, 41% of renters surveyed agree that spring is the best time to buy a home.
The surprising result, however, is that when ranking the seasons, winter comes in second at 24%.
1. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
2. Relocation buyers are out there.
3. Purchasers looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers who are ready to buy now.
4. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays.
5. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come.
If you are thinking about moving up to your dream home, waiting until later this year and hoping for prices to fall may not be a good strategy.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have increased by half of a percentage point, to around 4.5%, in 2018. This is still significantly lower than recent history.
The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.
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