To take advantage of near-record low mortgage interest rates and home prices undervalued by as much as three percent nationwide, now is a great time to buy a home.
You've already missed the bottom of the market, but that doesn't mean there aren't great buys to be had out there. Your community may not have appreciated as quickly as some of the big metro areas have recently. Your boom may yet come.
To begin with, the economy is growing. From information gathered on or before August 22, 2014, the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" report found economic activity is up in all eight national districts, including consumer spending, freight loads for deliveries of goods, and more.
But there are even better reasons to buy a home right now. Here are just a few:
More jobs are available
The Labor Department announced that the jobless rate is now below six percent. Consider how far the job market has come since January 2010 when unemployment was 9.7 percent.
Houses hedge against inflation
The Consumer Price for All Urban Consumers is up 1.7% from August 2013 to August 2014, excluding volatile food and gas prices. The food index has risen 2.7 percent over the span, while the energy index has increased 0.4 percent. This is the first month that the index hasn't risen since 2010.
Why is that good for homeowners? Even in a tepid inflationary environment, when prices rise, a major asset such as a home, purchased at a fixed cost, becomes more valuable. Typically, in an inflationary environment, housing prices rise.
Housing price gains are slowing
The median existing-home price in August was $219,800, which is 4.8 percent higher than home prices in August 2013. This marks the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. In 2013, home prices rose in the double digits.
Mortgage interest rates are still low
According to Freddie Mac's archives, the lowest that mortgage interest rates have been in modern history (since 1971) was in November and December 2012 at 3.35 percent with 0.7 points for a benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan, and that was back in 2012 before the housing recovery began in earnest. The most recent Freddie Mac survey found national averages at 4.16 percent with .05 percent points in September 2014.
Pent-up demand ready to release
Household formation has been muted since the Great Recession, preventing as many as 2.5 million people from forming households who otherwise would have. Economists with Harvard's Center for Joint Housing Studies predict that annual U.S. housing starts should average 1.4 to 1.5 million over the coming decade. Considering that the largest generation ever –81 million Echo Boomers — are well into renting and homebuying age, the numbers should be closer to the 2.3% annual growth of the 1970's, when 78 million Baby Boomers reached adulthood.
Buy VS rent ratios favor homeownership
Trulia, a real estate marketplace and research group announced that nationally, rents rose 6.5% year-over-year in September 2014. Apartment rents were up 6.9%, while single-family home rents gained 5.2%. At the same time, housing prices have leveled off.
A housing market never remains even. There are always surges and dips. Buyers could wait for better market conditions, but the present alignment of low mortgage interest rates, slowing home prices, rising rents and pent-up demand add up to great reasons to buy a home right now.