The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) forecasts a negligible increase in existing home sales going into 2017. According to survey findings from a total of 2,776 household respondents from the fourth quarter of 2016, consumers are losing confidence that now is a good time to buy a home.
Much of the skepticism in the market is held by renters. According to the survey, 11 percent of renters lost confidence in buying a home last year. Last quarter, 57 percent of renters believed it was a good time to buy a home, down from 68 percent in 2015.
Homeowners, on the other hand, seem to be more optimistic, with 78 percent of homeowners believing that now is a good time to buy a home. At the same time, the majority of homeowners (62 percent) believe that it is also a good time to sell.
The Contributing Factors
There are several factors that are likely contributing to the seceding buyer confidence—rising mortgage rates, steady price growth, and limited inventory, countered by an optimistic economic outlook.
Rising Mortgage Rates—With the considerable increase in mortgage rates after the election, buyers may be reluctant to lock themselves in on a higher interest rate than they could have had. However, with expectations of a continued climb in mortgage rates through 2017 and 2018, it might be a better decision to buy now rather than later.
Steady Price Growth—There has been a steady price growth since the housing crisis, with national averages finally back to pre-recession levels. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, says there is declining affordability in many areas of the country. With rents and home prices rising faster than income levels, more buyers are falling out of reach of their dream home.
Limited Inventory—A declining supply of inventory is another major issue, one that largely contributes to price increases. The rate of new construction is falling short of demand, by what Yun estimates to be about 3 million homes. How the construction industry accommodates for the rising demand as millennials reach their prime home buying years will shape the market in the years to come.
A Brighter Economic Outlook—The economy seems to be holding things together in the real estate market. Yun says that 2017 is expected to bring about 2 million new jobs. Unemployment levels have fallen to 4.7 percent last year, and is expected to be 4.5 percent through 2017 and 2018. According to a recent forecast from The Federal Open Market Committee projects that the U.S. GDP will rise to 2.1 percent this year.
With more jobs, and more millennials coming to market, Yun is hopeful that buyer demand will remain steady through the affordability tensions brought by rising mortgage rates and prices outpacing income growth.
With so many different factors affecting local markets, it would be wise to get in touch with a real estate agent for the best, and most informed decision about buying or selling. As NAR President William E. Brown says, “A Realtor® will have their pulse on current market conditions and can ensure a buyer is only searching for and making offers on a home that fits within the budget."