After years of hearing nothing but doom and gloom about the real estate market, it’s hard to believe that today all of the news is about the “housing market rebound” and “why now is a great time to buy or sell a home.” The housing market has recovered much faster than anyone imagined, and it’s taking people by surprise.
After the years of bad news, many people considering buying or selling a home gave up on the idea. For some, the housing market crash meant they lost all of the equity in the their home. Others found themselves underwater on their mortgage. The housing crisis also dissuaded many potential buyers, and the economic recession put buying a home out of reach for many more.
As the housing market recovery receives more attention, however, more and more people are realizing that today’s housing market provides amazing opportunities for both home sellers and homebuyers. Those looking to sell their homes are shocked to learn just how much equity they’ve gained back in their homes. Potential homebuyers are amazed by just how low interest rates are and how high home affordability is.
If you’ve been waiting to buy or sell a home, wait no longer. Today’s housing market provides unique opportunities that may not last. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why now is a great time to buy or sell.
Why Now Is a Great Time to Buy
1) Home Affordability
For many homebuyers, the first question when looking for a home is “can I afford this?” Homes are more affordable today than they have been in decades. Home affordability is measured by the ability of a family earning the national median income to purchase a home priced at the national median home sale price. And according to the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indexes Report, housing affordability was near a 40-year high at the end of the third quarter of 2013. High home affordability is placing homeownership within the reach of more and more people. However, home affordability is expected to take a hit as the year progresses and both home prices and interest rates continue to rise in 2014. So if you’re considering purchasing a home, it’s important to act sooner rather than later.
2) Low Interest Rates
When the housing market crashed, mortgage rates plummeted along with it. In January 2013, the average mortgage rate was 3.41 percent compared to 6.22 percent in January 2007—a historic low for mortgage rates. Low mortgage rates have helped keep home affordability high and mortgage payments low. These record low interest rates, however, won’t last forever. Already in March 2013, the average interest rate increased to 4.28 percent, and rates are expected to rise by as much as a percentage point in 2014. So if you’re considering buying a home, act soon. Slight increases in mortgage rates can have a significant effect on the size of mortgage payments, so take advantage of today’s rates while they last.
3) Buying is Cheaper than Renting
Low interest rates and home affordability have made owning a home cheaper than renting one in all 100 large U.S. metropolitan areas. In fact, according to Trulia’s Rent vs Buy report, owning a home is 38% cheaper than renting. If you’re looking to buy a home, there’s no better time than now!
Why Now Is a Great Time to Sell
1) Seller’s Market
As you can see from the previous section, now is a great time to buy a home. Low interest rates and high home affordability are attracting large number of homebuyers into the market. However, while demand rises, the number of houses on the market remains low. In January 2014, there were 1.90 million existing homes available for sale. This represents a 4.9-month supply, where a 6 to 6.5-month supply represents a balance between buyers and sellers. High demand and limited inventory has created a seller’s market. What’s more, slight increases in interest rates are driving buyers to act with urgency, making competition over the limited inventory common. These market conditions are allowing homeowners to receive more for their homes and make now a great time to sell a home.
2) Home Prices Have Recovered
Homeowners who explore selling their homes are often surprised to find out how much their home is worth today. The same conditions that have created a seller’s market have helped drive home prices up. In January 2014, the median existing-home price was up to $188,900, up 10.7 percent from January 2013. Housing prices recovered faster than anyone expected. For many homeowners, it means having equity in their home for the first time in years. If you want to sell your home but have not been able, it’s important to reevaluate your situation. Your situation may have improved more than you think.
3) The Number of Homes for Sale is Increasing
In 2014, appreciation has slowed slightly. While 2013 saw double-digit growth, CoreLogic predicts home prices to rise closer to 4.2% from January 2014 to January 2015.
The slowing of appreciation is attributed to many factors, but chief among them is an increase in the number of homes for sale. As demand continues to increase, more people are expected to put their homes on the market. Many homeowners have equity for the first time and years and are finally able to sell their homes. Others that have been waiting for the market to improve are beginning to realize that it has.
New home starts are also up. In 2013, homebuilders started construction on slightly under 1 million homes, and even more new homes are expected this year. When these homes hit the market, they will add to the inventory, reducing the amount of leverage home sellers have in the market.