The 3 Best Reasons to Buy a Home in 2018
THE 3 BEST REASONS TO BUY A HOME
IN 2018 (BUT YOU'D BETTER HURRY)
Figuring out when to plunge into the real estate market can be quite intimidating—especially when prices are high, choices are limited, and history urges restraint.
Comforting, right? Well, take heart: Experts agree that relief is indeed on the horizon.
New predictions for 2018 forecast more moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances.
- RATES ARE GOING UP
After years of record-low interest rates (hello, 3%!), the Fed is finally making some noticeable increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4% mark last year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, Vivas predicts we'll see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are anticipated to hit 5% by the end of the year.
In other words, if you want in on the American dream, now might be the time.
- PRICES ARE CLIMBING, BUT NOT SUPER FAST
Home prices have soared over the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas and leading some experts to cry "bubble". But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate.
Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2% year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5% year over year.
Of course, it all depends on where you live. While red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues chugging along and new construction is happening in the right price points.
So what does that mean? Basically, home prices will still increase, but not at the same pace as they have over the past few years.
- INVENTORY LEVELS WILL BEGIN TO INCREASE
An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle (a tiny house with linoleum floors for $1 million, anyone?) and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn, with markets such as Boston; Detroit; and Nashville, TN, recovering first.
The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle- to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000.
New home construction is also expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and land that's available, tight bank financing for building loans, and a run-up in building material prices, says National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz.
It's particularly tough, he says, for builders to break ground at the entry level for first-time buyers, particularity in high-cost coastal markets such as California. That means it will take longer for those inventory levels to recover.
But there's a bright spot: Builder confidence is at its highest level since 1999, according to the NAHB. And that means hope is on the horizon.
4. THE WILDCARD: TAXES AND POLITICS
When the Republican tax plan was introduced, the proposed elimination of the mortgage interest deduction was all anyone could talk about: While the new limitations on the deduction will affect only 2.5% of all existing mortgages in the U.S., it will have a disproportionate effect on Western markets, where 20% to 30% of mortgages are above the new threshold, according to Vivas.
Across the board, experts agree that the new tax plan decreases incentives for homeownership and reduces the tax benefits of owning a home—particularly in highly taxed, expensive markets such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. But on the flip side, that means that if fewer folks are motivated to buy, then there’s less competition for those who want in the game. Plus, some taxpayers—including renters—will see a tax cut. That increase in buyers' disposable income could spur demand from folks who are looking to build equity as a homeowner, rather than flushing away their savings in rent.
"Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term—that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option," Vivas says. "As people get more savings in their pocket, buying becomes the better option."