Real Estate Tips

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis

It seems you can’t find a headline with the term “housing affordability” without the word “crisis” attached to it. That’s because some only consider the fact that residential real estate prices have continued to appreciate. However, we must realize it’s not just the price of a home that matters, but the price relative to a purchaser’s buying power.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 3.5% over the last year.

Let’s look at three different reports issued recently that reveal how homes are very affordable in comparison to historic numbers, and how they have become even more affordable over the past several months.

1. National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Housing Affordability Index:

Here is a graph showing the index going all the way back to 1990. The higher the column, the more affordable homes are:

housing affordability index.png

We can see that homes are less affordable today (the green bar) than they were during the housing crash (the red bars). This was when distressed properties like foreclosures and short sales saturated the market and sold for massive discounts. However, homes are more affordable today than at any time from 1990 to 2008.

NAR’s report on the index also shows that the percentage of a family’s income needed for a mortgage payment (16.5%) is dramatically lower than last year and is well below the historic norm of 21.2%.

payment as percentage of income.png

2. Black Knight’s Mortgage Monitor:

This report reveals that as a result of falling interest rates and slowing home price appreciation, affordability is the best it has been in 18 months. Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske explains:

“For much of the past year and a half, affordability pressures have put a damper on home price appreciation. Indeed, the rate of annual home price growth has declined for 15 consecutive months. More recently, declining 30-year fixed interest rates have helped to ease some of those pressures, improving the affordability outlook considerably…And despite the average home price rising by more than $12K since November, today’s lower fixed interest rates have worked out to a $108 lower monthly payment...Lower rates have also increased the buying power for prospective homebuyers looking to purchase the average-priced home by the equivalent of 15%.”

3. First American’s Real House Price Index:

While affordability has increased recently, Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist explains:

“If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”

Fleming goes on to say that the gains in affordability are about mortgage rates and the increase in family incomes:

“Average nominal household incomes are nearly 57 percent higher today than in January 2000. Record income levels combined with mortgage rates near historic lows mean consumer house-buying power is more than 150 percent greater today than it was in January 2000.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve put off the purchase of a first home or a move-up home because of affordability concerns, you should take another look at your ability to purchase in today’s market. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Appreciation is Strong: It Might Be Time To Sell

There’s no doubt that today’s housing market is changing, and everything we see right now indicates it is time to sell. Here’s a look at why selling now is likely to drive the greatest return on your largest investment.

Home values have been appreciating for several years now, growing at a strong, steady, and impressive pace. In fact, the average annual appreciation rate since 2012 has nearly doubled the average rate from the more normal market of the 1990s (think: pre-bubble).

Average Annual Percentage Appreciation.png

Appreciation, however, is projected to shift back toward normal, meaning home prices will likely keep climbing over the next few years, but they are not projected to continue to increase at such a high rate.

Here’s What That Means for Homeowners:

As noted in the latest Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) powered by Pulsenomics, experts forecast an average annual appreciation rate closer to 3.2% over the next five years, which is more in line with a historically normal market (3.6%). The good news is, there’s still time to take advantage of the current strength of home prices by selling your house now.

Mean Percentage Appreciation.png

Looking at the projections as they stand today, 2019 is slated to drive the strongest appreciation as compared to the upcoming few years. With average home prices still on the rise, the pace at which they are predicted to continue increasing will likely soften by 2020.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house, now is a great time to make your move. Don’t get stuck waiting until projected home price appreciation rates potentially re-accelerate again in 2023. You’ll likely earn the greatest return on your investment by selling now before the prices start to normalize next year.