Today’s cooling housing market, the rise in mortgage rates, and mounting economic concerns have some people questioning: should I still buy a home this year? While it’s true this year has unique challenges for homebuyers, it’s important to factor the long-term benefits of homeownership into your decision.
Consider this: if you know people who bought a home 5, 10, or even 30 years ago, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding someone who regrets their decision. Why is that? The reason is tied to how you gain equity and wealth as home values grow with time.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“Home equity gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage through principal payments.”
Here’s a look at how just the home price appreciation piece can really add up over the years.
Home Price Growth Over Time
Even though home price appreciation has moderated this year, home values have still increased significantly in recent years. The map below uses data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to show just how noteworthy those gains have been over the last five years.
If you look at the percent change in home prices, you can see home prices grew on average by almost 64% nationwide over that period.
That means a home’s value can increase substantially in a short time. And if you expand that time frame even more, the benefit of homeownership and the drastic gains you stand to make become even clearer (see map below):
The second map shows, nationwide, home prices appreciated by an average of over 290% over roughly a thirty-year span.
While home price growth varies by state and local area, the nationwide average tells you the typical homeowner who bought a house thirty years ago saw their home almost triple in value over that time. This is why homeowners who bought their homes years ago are still happy with their decision.
Even if home price appreciation eases as the market cools this year, experts say home prices are still expected to appreciate nationally in 2023. That means, in most markets, your home should grow in value over the next year even if the pace is slower than it was during the peak market frenzy when prices skyrocketed.
The alternative to buying a home is renting, and rental prices have been climbing for decades. So why rent and fight annual lease hikes for no long-term financial benefit? Instead, consider buying a home. It’s an investment in your future that could set you up for long-term gains.
Experts in the real estate industry use a number of terms when they talk about what’s happening with home prices. And some of those words sound a bit similar but mean very different things. To help clarify what’s happening with home prices and where experts say they’re going, here’s a look at a few terms you may hear:
- Appreciation is when home prices increase.
- Depreciation is when home prices decrease.
- Deceleration is when home prices continue to appreciate, but at a slower pace.
Where Home Prices Have Been in Recent Years
For starters, you’ve probably heard home prices have skyrocketed over the past two years, but homes were actually appreciating long before that. You might be surprised to learn that home prices have climbed for 122 consecutive months (see graph below):
As the graph shows, houses have gained value consistently over the past 10 consecutive years. But since 2020, the increase has been more dramatic as home price growth accelerated.
So why did home prices climb so much? It’s because there were more buyers than there were homes for sale. That imbalance put upward pressure on home prices because demand was high and supply was low.
Where Experts Say Home Prices Are Going
While this is helpful context, if you’re a buyer or seller in today’s market, you probably want to know what’s going to happen with home prices moving forward. Will they continue that same growth path or will home prices fall?
Experts are forecasting ongoing appreciation, just at a decelerated pace. In other words, prices will keep climbing, just not as fast as they have been. The graph below shows home price forecasts from seven industry leaders. None are calling for prices to fall (see graph below):
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, identifies a key reason why home prices won’t depreciate or drop:
“In today’s housing market, demand for homes continues to outpace supply, which is keeping the pressure on house prices, so don’t expect house prices to decline.”
And although housing supply is starting to tick up, it’s not enough to make home prices decline because there’s still a gap between the number of homes available for sale and the volume of buyers looking to make a purchase.
Terry Loebs, Founder of the research firm Pulsenomics, notes that most real estate experts and economists anticipate home prices will continue rising. As he puts it:
“With home values at record-high levels and a vast majority of experts projecting additional price increases this year and beyond, home prices and expectations remain buoyant.”