Home Prices: What Happened in 2020? What Will Happen This Year?
Reasons to Buy a Home This Year – What is the Cost of Waiting?
Home Prices in 2020 Set Records
The real estate market was on fire during the second half of 2020. Buyer demand was way up, and the supply of homes available for sale hit record lows. The price of anything is determined by the supply and demand ratio, so home prices skyrocketed last year.
Dr. Lynn Fisher, Deputy Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Division of Research and Statistics, explains:
“House prices nationwide recorded the largest annual and quarterly increase in the history of the FHFA Home Price Index. Low mortgage rates, pent up demand from homebuyers, and a limited housing supply propelled every region of the country to experience faster growth in 2020 compared to a year ago despite the pandemic.”
Here are the year-end home price appreciation numbers from the FHFA and two other prominent pricing indexes:
- Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index Report: 10.8%
- CoreLogic Home Price Insights: 9.2%
- S&P Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index: 10.4%
The past year was truly a remarkable time for homeowners as prices appreciated substantially. Lawrence Yun, Senior Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals:
“A typical homeowner in 2020, just by being a homeowner, would have accumulated around $24,000 in housing wealth.”
What will happen with home prices this year?
Based on this, most forecasters anticipate we’ll see strong appreciation in 2021 – but not as strong as last year. Here are seven prominent groups and their projections:
How Smart Is It to Buy a Home Today?
Whether you’re buying your first home or selling your current house, if your needs are changing and you think you need to move, the decision can be complicated. You may have to take personal or professional considerations into account, and only you can judge what impact those factors should have on your desire to move.
However, there’s one category that provides a simple answer. When deciding to buy now or wait until next year, the financial aspect of the purchase is easy to evaluate. You just need to ask yourself two questions:
- Do I think home values will be higher a year from now?
- Do I think mortgage rates will be higher a year from now?
From a purely financial standpoint, if the answer is ‘yes’ to either question, you should strongly consider buying now. If the answer to both questions is ‘yes,’ you should definitely buy now.
Nobody can guarantee what home values or mortgage rates will be by the end of this year. The experts, however, seem certain the answer to both questions above is a resounding ‘yes.’ Mortgage rates are expected to rise and home values are expected to appreciate rather nicely as this article shows.
What does this mean to you?
Let’s look at how waiting would impact your financial situation. Here are the assumptions made for this example:
- The experts are right – mortgage rates will be 3.18% at the end of the year
- The experts are right – home values will appreciate by 5.9%
- You want to buy a home valued at $350,000 today
- You decide on a 10% down payment
Here’s the financial impact of waiting:
- You pay an extra $20,650 for the house
- You need an additional $2,065 for a down payment
- You pay an extra $116/month in your mortgage payment ($1,392 additional per year)
- You don’t gain the $20,650 increase in wealth through equity build-up
Home price appreciation will be strong this year, but it won’t reach the historic levels of 2020. There are many things to consider when buying a home. However, from a purely financial aspect, if you find a home that meets your needs, buying now makes much more sense than buying next year.