Housing Market Trends: Or, Why I Stopped Renting and Bought a Home

Write the check, put it in the envelope, lick it, stamp it, and send your hard earned money away…month after month. This is the relentless cycle of renting: never ending; always draining. Sure there are some upsides to renting. There are fewer responsibilities, for instance. It’s good at a certain point in your life when you want to get up and leave and you aren’t sure where your life is headed. However, a recent poll shows that around 74% of Americans believe that home ownership is an integral part of achieving their dreams—and even among the younger crowd home ownership dreams are high. In fact, 42% of millennials say that they hope to buy a home in the next 1 to 5 years.

Given the excitement surrounding home buying, 2015 might just be the right year for you to achieve your home owning dream. Looking at the housing forecast as we move into the heightened spring buying season might help you put into perspective why purchasing a home right now makes a lot of sense.

The Housing Market is Getting Stronger

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), purchases of new homes have picked up in the last few months, and have certainly rebounded from the lows of the great recession. Furthermore, stabilization—a key indicator of market health—shows promising gains. A final piece of good news about the strength of the national housing market is that foreclosures continue their downward cycle. According to HUD’s blog, “Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 48,838 U.S. properties in January 2015, down 18 percent from the previous month and down 15 percent from a year earlier.”

Given these indications of more home purchases, stabilized prices with healthy gains, and a drop in the foreclosure rates, we can see that the housing market is a good place to invest. In addition, according to February’s report by HUD, home affordability remains above historic norms, with mortgage rates within 1% of historic lows.

In sum, good housing market + good affordability + good mortgage rates = a great time to buy.

Rent is on the Rise

It is estimated that in 2015 rent rates will rise to meet the demand of more millennials moving away from home (thanks to a better job market). The rise in rent prices makes home buying all the more of an attractive option.

It is possible, in fact, that rent will rise as much as 3.5% in 2015. This is more than the predicted raise in home prices this year. If that’s not enough reason to start house-hunting, I’m not sure what is (other than dealing with weird roommates and strange landlords).

Mortgage Interest Rates May Rise

Even though mortgage rates are very reasonable right now, by the end of 2015 the rates may rise, making monthly mortgage payments a bit more expensive. Though no one can predict the rates exactly, many experts believe that rates will rise anywhere between 4.5 to 5%. Interest rates for the most part held steady or even declined in 2014, so if you are thinking of buying, consider doing so earlier rather than later to lock in these very attractive rates.

But to put things into perspective—the average interest rate in 1989 was somewhere around 10%. In 2014 it was around 4%. So even though home prices have changed quite a lot since 1989, given the radical difference in interest rates, monthly mortgage payments are not that much higher than 25-ish years ago. Obviously it depends what kind of house you’re buying, where you’re buying it, and what rate you qualify for, but seriously. Those of you who are renting, crunch the numbers by talking to a loan officer or a real estate agent to see if the strong housing market and the reasonable interest rates will work for your benefit. Maybe you’ll be a home owner by the end of 2015! We’ll happily welcome you to the club.

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