Every time there’s a news segment about the housing market, we hear about the affordability challenges buyers are facing today. Those headlines are focused on how much mortgage rates have climbed this year. And while it’s true rates have risen dramatically, it’s important to remember they aren’t the only factor in the affordability equation.
Here are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let’s look closely at each one.
1. Mortgage Rates
This is the factor most people are focused on when they talk about homebuying conditions today. So far, current rates are almost four full percentage points higher than they were at the beginning of the year. As Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:
“U.S. 30-year fixed mortgage rates have increased 3.83 percentage points since the end of last year. That’s the biggest year-to-date increase in rates in over 50 years.”
That increase in mortgage rates is impacting how much it costs to finance a home purchase, creating a challenge for many buyers that’s pricing some out of the market. While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project where mortgage rates will go in the future, experts do say that rates will likely remain high as long as inflation does.
2. Home Prices
The second factor at play is home prices. Home prices have made headlines over the past few years because they skyrocketed during the pandemic. Now, the most recent Home Price Index from S&P Case-Shiller shows home values continued to decelerate for a fifth consecutive month (shown in green in the graph below):
This deceleration is happening because higher mortgage rates are moderating demand, and as a result, easing the buyer competition and bidding wars that previously drove prices up.
What’s worth noting though, is how much higher home prices still are than they were before the pandemic (shown in blue in the graph above). Even now, we have a long way to go to get to more normal levels of home price appreciation, which is historically closer to 4%. When both mortgage rates and home prices are high, affordability and your purchasing power become a greater challenge.
But while prices are still elevated in many markets, some areas are seeing slight declines. It all depends on your local market. For insight into what’s happening in your area, reach out to a trusted real estate professional.
The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is the increase in American wages. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have grown over time. This year is no exception.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports:
“Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 120.2 million full-time wage and salary workers were $1,070 in the third quarter of 2022 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported…This was 6.9 percent higher than a year earlier…”
So, when you think about affordability, remember the full picture includes more than just mortgage rates. Home prices and wages need to be factored in as well. Because wages have been rising, they’re a big reason why serious buyers are still purchasing homes this year.
If you have questions or want to learn more, reach out to a trusted advisor who can explain how all of these variables work together and what’s happening in your area. As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:
“Buying or selling a home involves a series of requirements and variables, and it’s important to have someone in your corner from start to finish to make the process as smooth as possible… and objectivity to deliver trusted expertise to consumers in every U.S. ZIP code.”
To learn more, let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender so you’re able to make an informed decision if you’re planning to buy or sell a home right now.
If you’re planning to buy a home this year, one of the first steps on your journey is getting pre-approved. Especially in today’s market when mortgage rates are higher than they were just a few months ago, getting a mortgage pre-approval can be a game changer. Here’s why.
What Is Pre-Approval?
To better understand why pre-approval is key, it’s important to know what pre-approval is. The Mortgage Reports explains it like this:
“When you’re ready to take the leap into homeownership, your first step is mortgage preapproval. . . . A mortgage preapproval is when a lender determines you’re qualified for a home loan. Your preapproval letter shows the maximum loan amount you’re approved for (your home buying budget), as well as the specific interest rate and loan term you can expect.”
As part of the pre-approval process, a lender will look at your finances to determine what they’d be willing to loan you. From there, your lender will give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand your true price range and how much money you can borrow. That can make it easier when you set out to search for homes because you’ll know your overall numbers. And with mortgage rates rising and impacting affordability, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important.
Pre-Approval Can Signal You’re a Serious Buyer
Another added benefit is that pre-approval lets the seller know you’re qualified to buy their house. A recent article from realtor.com notes:
“. . . getting pre-approved can actually improve your chances of falling into the sellers’ good graces, and you’ll want to get it done as early as you possibly can in the home-buying process.”
Even though bidding wars are easing this year as the market shifts, preapproval is still an important part of making a strong offer. It can help a seller feel more confident because it shows you’re serious about their home and that you’re a qualified buyer.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is critical. It helps you better understand what you can borrow and shows sellers you’re serious about purchasing their home. Connect with a local real estate professional and a trusted lender so you have the tools you need to succeed as a homebuyer in today’s market.