Spring is usually the busiest season in the housing market. Many buyers wait until then to make their move, believing it’s the best time to find a home. However, that isn’t always the case when you factor in the competition you could face with other buyers at that time of year. If you’re ready to buy a home, here’s why it makes sense to move before the spring market picks up.
Spring Should Bring a Wave of Buyers to the Market
In most years, the housing market goes through predictable seasonal trends in activity. Winter is typically a quiet point in the year, while spring sees a surge of buyers begin their search. And experts project that this year will be no exception.
Right now, buyer demand is low due to a combination of normal seasonal trends and a reaction to last year’s rise in mortgage rates. But rates have started to come down since last November, which has more and more potential buyers planning to jump into the market. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy, before more buyers reappear. Affordability is beginning to improve, but demand is still low — for now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), shares:
“. . . expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”
If you’re ready to buy a home, right now is the best time to do so before your competition grows and more buyers enter the market.
Today’s Sellers Are Motivated
Low demand from buyers often means sellers are more motivated to work with you, and that can set you up to buy a home on your terms. In fact, sellers have been more willing to negotiate this winter because there are fewer buyers in the market. According to a recent article from Forbes:
“. . . sellers gave concessions to buyers in 41.9% of home sales in the fourth quarter of last year.”
But keep in mind, the advantages buyers have this winter won’t last forever. The competition you face could be greater if you wait until spring to make a move, and increased buyer demand means sellers will have less motivation to negotiate with you. Be sure to work with a trusted real estate professional to learn what you can expect in your local market right now.
If you’re in a position to buy a home, it may make sense to move before spring. Working with your team of expert real estate advisors is the best way to learn about the current market and what it means for you. Connect with a professional today to determine the best plan to achieve your homebuying goals.
If you’ve been following the housing market over the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard about growing affordability challenges. But according to experts, the key factors that determine housing affordability are projected to improve this year. Selma Hepp, Executive, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, shares:
“. . . with slowly improving affordability and a more optimistic economic outlook than previously believed, the housing market could show resilience in 2023.”
The three measures used to establish home affordability are home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Here’s a closer look at each one.
1. Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates shot up to over 7% last year, causing many buyers to put their plans on hold. But things are looking different today as rates are starting to come down. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains:
“Let’s celebrate some good news. . . . mortgage rates are down. With inflation showing a tangible slowdown, I do expect mortgage rates to follow suit in the months ahead.”
Even a small change in rates can impact your purchasing power. Nadia Evangelou, Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), gives this context:
“With a 6% rate instead of 7%, buyers pay about $2,700 less every year on their mortgage. As a result, owning a home becomes affordable to about 1.4 million more renters and 4.3 million more homeowners.”
If 7% rates paused your homebuying plans last year, this could be the opportunity you need to get back in the game. Be sure to work with a team of experts who know the latest on mortgage rates and can give you the best advice for the current market.
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. When discussing home prices in 2023, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, says:
“After a big boom over the past two years, there will essentially be no change nationally . . . Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines.”
So, while prices will likely be flat this year in some markets, others could see small gains or slight declines. It all depends on your local area. For insight into what’s happening in your market and how prices are impacting affordability, reach out to a trusted real estate professional.
The final component in the affordability equation is wages. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have increased over time:
When you think about affordability, remember the full picture includes more than just mortgage rates and prices. Wages need to be factored in as well. Because wages have been rising, many buyers have renewed opportunity in the market.
While affordability hurdles are not completely going away this year, based on current trends and projections, 2023 should bring some sense of relief to homebuyers who have faced growing challenges. As Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), says:
“Rates are expected to move lower for the year, and home price growth is expected to cool, both of which will help affordability challenges.”
If you have questions, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to explore your options. You may be closer to owning a home than you think.
One of the first steps in your homebuying journey is getting pre-approved. To understand why it’s such an important step, you need to understand what pre-approval is and what it does for you. Business Insider explains:
“In a preapproval [sic], the lender tells you which types of loans you may be eligible to take out, how much you may be approved to borrow, and what your rate could be.”
Basically, pre-approval gives you critical information about the homebuying process that’ll help you understand your options and what you may be able to borrow.
How does it work? 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 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 higher mortgage rates impacting affordability for many buyers today, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important.
Pre-Approval Helps Show You’re a Serious Buyer
Another added benefit is pre-approval can help a seller feel more confident in your offer because it shows you’re serious about buying their house. A recent article from Forbes notes:
“From the seller’s perspective, a preapproval [sic] letter from a reputable local lender often can make the difference between accepting and rejecting an offer.”
This goes to show, even though you may not face the intense bidding wars you saw if you tried to buy during the pandemic, pre-approval is still an important part of making a strong offer. In fact, Christy Bieber, Personal Finance Writer at The Motley Fool explains it may be the most important part of making an offer:
“Pre-approval maximizes the chances you’ll be able to actually close the deal – and sellers want to see that.
The fact that a pre-approval gives you a better chance of getting your offer accepted is undoubtedly the most important reason to complete this step . . .”
Getting pre-approved is an important first step towards buying a home. It lets you know 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 purchase a home in today’s market.
Last year, the Federal Reserve took action to try to bring down inflation. In response to those efforts, mortgage rates jumped up rapidly from the record lows we saw in 2021, peaking at just over 7% last October. Hopeful buyers experienced a hit to their purchasing power as a result, and some decided to press pause on their plans.
Today, the rate of inflation is starting to drop. And as a result, mortgage rates have dipped below last year’s peak. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, shares:
“While mortgage market activity has significantly shrunk over the last year, inflationary pressures are easing and should lead to lower mortgage rates in 2023.”
That’s potentially great news if you’re a buyer aiming to jump back into the housing market. Any drop in mortgage rates helps boost your purchasing power by bringing down your expected monthly mortgage payment. This means the lower mortgage rates experts forecast this year could be just what you need to reignite your homebuying goals.
While this opens up a window of opportunity for you, remember: you shouldn’t expect rates to drop back down to record lows like we saw in 2021. Experts agree that’s not the range buyers should bank on. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:
“I think we could be surprised at how much mortgage rates pull back this year. But we’re not going back to 3 percent anytime soon, because inflation is not going back to 2 percent anytime soon.”
It’s important to have a realistic vision for what you can expect this year, and that’s where the advice of expert real estate advisors is critical. You may be surprised by the impact even a mild drop in mortgage rates has on your budget. If you’re ready to buy a home now, today’s market presents the opportunity to get a more affordable mortgage rate, find your dream home, and face less competition from other buyers.
The recent pullback in mortgage rates is great news – but if you’re ready to buy now, holding out for 3% is a mistake. Work with a local real estate expert to explore the options in your area and learn how today’s rates impact your goals.