You can call it a bubble, or you can just call it pricey. But It’s a tough time to buy a home in the US.
Throughout 2022, the seller’s market is expected to continue. It’s a good time to sell a home, but not so much to buy one.
Here’s an overview of major developments and some guidelines for how to navigate this tricky environment
What’s the current state of the housing market?
The “WFH effect” has been huge. As more Americans transitioned to remote work during the pandemic, we’ve re-evaluated our home life and found new reasons to move. The work-from-home transition has triggered new needs, with families aiming for more space, and pushed more of us into the housing market, looking to move.
Over the past year, Americans have also added to their savings at record rates and are ready to buy in 2022. Low mortgage rates add extra incentive, spurring more us to enter the market in 2022.
Generational forces are shaping the new landscape, too. While Millennials are increasingly looking to settle down, Boomers have been reluctant to downsize. Younger folks are driving demand up, while older folks are keeping the supply low.
With these forces working together, the upshot is that the number of homes available is extraordinarily low while prices are strikingly high. According to Fortune, home price growth clocked in at 19.9% over 2021, drastically above the yearly average of 4.6% across the last few decades.
How has the buying process been affected?
With prices on the rise, buyers are becoming competitive now. Some are engaging in bidding wars, offering more than the asking price, while others are making all-cash offers or offering higher down payments. All of this makes home buying even more expensive, especially for the average buyer.
Since listings are often sold in a matter of days, there’s pressure to make decisions faster too. For some, that’s meant skipping traditional inspections or making do with virtual viewing online. But a lack of inspections can leave you on the hook for costly repairs, and online-only viewing can leave you with a serious case of buyer’s remorse.
What’s the outlook for 2022?
The best way to ease all these pressures – and bring prices down – is to increase the inventory and put more houses on the market. But that’s not so easy to do. There’s no speedy way to build more housing, and it’s expected things will stay the same through 2022.
Some regions have strict zoning restrictions, while others simply don’t have land to build on. Both labor and materials are more expensive than ever, making new construction even more challenging, in addition to ongoing supply chain problems.
There is no immediate reprieve seems to be on the horizon for the steep housing prices.
One market factor that will change in the coming year: mortgage rates are expected to go up in 2022. The Federal Reserve is saying as much, making home buying an even more expensive proposition and stopping some buyers from entering the market. But that’s not great news for first time buyers or anyone looking for a good deal.
Where are people buying?
With Americans leaving expensive and crowded coastal cities, they’re heading to the Sunbelt and driving up the price of housing there. Austin comes in as 2021’s most coveted market. Cities like Tampa and Phoenix continue to be popular too. States like North Carolina and Colorado have also seen increasing demand and home prices going up.
In 2022, relatively more affordable areas with high quality of living like Salt Lake City, Boise, and Portland, Maine are expected to see continued interest – and strong growth in home prices.
How should buyers proceed in 2022?
Buying a house will continue to be tricky, so the decision should largely be a matter of need and budget. If you’re badly in need of more space, it may be worth paying a premium, especially while you can still lock in a low mortgage rate. However, if your situation is less urgent, it may pay to wait and avoid the current feeding frenzy, while keeping an eye on mortgage rates.
Buying a home is a major investment and deserves careful consideration. While the market in 2022 might call for aggressive action, be mindful of your limits and what you can realistically afford.
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