Here’s a paradox for you: Right now, homebuyer confidence is at an all-time high, according to a survey performed by Fannie Mae. Furthermore, an increasing number of people, particularly renters, think now is a good time to buy a home. Yet at the same time, housing inventory remains very tight. It’s down 6.5% nationally from last year. Home prices are also up 6.9% nationally over last year.
In other words, homebuyers are optimistic at a time that the market seems to be favoring sellers. So, what's going on? Why are homebuyers so optimistic all of a sudden? Here are three possible explanations:
1. Lending is loosening up. Over the past several years, mortgage rates have seen historical lows. This has meant that homes are actually more affordable, in spite of the increase in prices. However, lending has been very tight. Fortunately, that’s changing. Lenders are approving mortgages at the highest rate since 2011, with 77% of mortgages for home purchases approved.
2. Jobs are looking good. At the moment, fewer homebuyers are worried about losing their jobs, according to the same Fannie Mae survey. It's not just job security that's contributing to greater optimism about buying a home. Overall income is higher, making homes more affordable by comparison. The median household currently has 150% of the income needed to buy a median home, compared to a historical average of just 125%.
3. Long-time renters are ready to buy. Millennials, the generation of people born after 1980, have largely opted out of homeownership until now. They have been renting for a longer time, putting them higher up on the pay scale compared to previous generations of first-time homebuyers. But now, many millennials are finally hitting an age when they are willing to commit to buying instead of renting. This is reflected in the Fannie Mae report, which states that much of the increase in homebuyer optimism comes from current renters.
What all does this mean for you? If you're looking to buy a home, all of the above reasons should give you confidence that now is indeed the right time to buy.
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, click the links above to search for homes on the MLS or find out how much your home is currently worth.
And if you have any questions about the Northern Virginia real estate market, whether you're thinking of selling or buying, give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I'm here to help. I look forward to hearing from you soon.