Figuring out when to plunge into the real estate market can be quite intimidating—especially when prices are high, choices are limited, and history urges restraint.
“We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation, as well as an inventory shortage that resulted in a record-low number of homes for sale across the country,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com®. “When you factor those together, you have a market that has to either explode or see some relief.
Comforting, right? Well, take heart: Experts agree that relief is indeed on the horizon.New predictions for 2018 forecast more moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances.
A lot depends on where you live (and how much you plan to finance), but these factors combined could mean 2018 will be your year to take the buying plunge.
1. Rates are going up
After years of record-low interest rates (hello, 3%!), the Fed is finally making some noticeable increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4% mark last year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, Vivas predicts we’ll see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are anticipated to hit 5% by the end of the year.
“The big story there is that those increases will further constrict affordability,” Vivas says. “The more buyers wait, the more expensive it will get to buy—not just because of home prices, but because of inflationary pressure.”
In other words, if you want in on the American dream, now might be the time.
2. Prices are climbing, but not crazily fast
Home prices have soared over the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas and leading some experts to cry “bubble”. But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate.
Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2% year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5% year over year.
Of course, it all depends on where you live. While red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues chugging along and new construction is happening in the right price points.
So what does that mean? Basically, home prices will still increase, but not at the same pace as they have over the past few years.