Kevin Graham17-minute read
UPDATED: April 26, 2023
As we start really rolling through 2023, home buyers and those looking to refinance are no doubt very interested in the ongoing real estate trends so that they can go into the housing market educated and with their eyes wide open. We begin with an overview of what happened in 2022 before looking at where we are today.
We’ve also called on some of our Verified Partner real estate agents from across the country to get an idea of what they’re seeing and what to expect if you’re entering the market.
In 2022, homeowners confronted a very different market than what we saw in 2020 and 2021. In those 2 years, there was a run-up in home prices due to low rates making money borrowing relatively cheap. The government was hoping to keep the economy stimulated by setting benchmarks for interest at historical lows during the pandemic.
While things switched up a bit in the last half of 2022, even higher rates couldn’t bring prices down for a minute. Part of this is due to the fact that homeowners are slow to recognize overall market trends and the home has to sit there a while before the price will fall.
The other factor is insanely low levels of inventory. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, as of December 2022, the number of existing homes on the market would have sold out in just 2.9 months at the current pace of sales. For context, a market is considered to be pretty in balance when there’s about 6 months’ worth of inventory. Homeowners weren’t in a hurry to sell to jump into a house with a higher rate.
The following data is a combination of what we saw in the listings on Rocket HomesSM and third-party sources. Total homes sold comes from the Census Bureau and National Association of REALTORS®. Average first-time home buyer age comes from a yearly study conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®.
Median listing price
Median sales price
Total homes sold
Average first-time home buyer age
Average time on market
Before we get to predictions about the future, let’s take a good look at what happened in the market to end 2022.
In the data for December 2022 from the National Association of REALTORS®, existing home sales were down 17.8% from 2021 at 5.03 million. There are a couple of reasons for this, but a big part of it on both sides comes down to higher interest rates. As rates rise, it pushes certain buyers who don’t have to buy or move right now out of the market, at least at current prices.
Additionally, for those who want to buy now, there was and is less inventory on the market. Some sellers could put their home up and make a tidy profit. There’s no doubt. However, the problem comes in the fact that you have to then go find another house to buy. If you don’t pay in full in cash, that means taking on a new mortgage at a higher rate.
There is also likely some carryover effect from the market in 2021 when rates were low. At the time, there was a lot of demand for houses and cheap money meant higher prices for homes and big bidding wars. Rather than get involved in that, many homeowners were choosing to use the low rates to remodel and upgrade in place. These homeowners aren’t motivated to sell.
New home sales are possibly even more impacted by higher interest rates. According to December 2022 data from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales came in at an estimated 644,000 to end the year. This is 16.5% lower than last year’s ending estimate of 771,000.
It’s worth noting that the final numbers for existing home sales and new home sales aren’t apples to apples. Existing home sales are reported by REALTORS® on the ground. With new home sales because the timing of sales happens at various stages in the construction process and transactions are sometimes canceled, there are only ever estimates.
With that caveat, back to the data at hand. As mentioned, new home sales are possibly more impacted by changes in interest rates. The reasoning for this is that it can take a long time to build a single-family home. Interest rates went up fast enough last year that buyers who thought they were locking in at one rate soon saw rates rise beyond their affordability.
When cancellations come in from those who can no longer afford it, builders have to find new buyers. The good thing from the perspective of a home buyer is that once you start building a new home, you finish it. In other words, rising rates or not, there’s new inventory coming online. In fact, builders are still working through a backlog.
Median home prices went up for much of 2022, often at record rates of appreciation nationally. There are a couple reasons for this. First, inventory was very low, so that the homes that were available were worth more just based on supply and demand.
Second, home prices tend to be sticky. So rather than having 10 people in a bidding war for your home, you might have one who could now afford your price, but bidding wars stop before prices come down.
In the latter part of the year, rising rates did force a bit of a market correction. Home prices fell in some of the most overheated markets of the country and as we’ll see later, some of the agents we talked to expect this trend to continue. But it’s taken a while because homeowners are reluctant to move off a price point when they may have seen their neighbors move a year ago and make a mint.
Mortgage rates fluctuate on a daily basis and sometimes more. However, despite the ups and downs, the general trend throughout 2022 was toward higher rates.
If you look at mortgage rates from the beginning of 2022 to the end according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, rates rose 3.2% to average 6.42% for a 30-year fixed mortgage if we compare the first week of the year to the last. The quick rise in rates while there was still no real end in sight for home buyers in terms of elevated home prices created a severe affordability challenge.
Just to give an idea of the obstacle, let’s say you were trying to get a 30-year $250,000 mortgage at 3.22% at the beginning of last year. The payment at the end of the year when rates were up is almost $500 higher and you wind up paying about $174,000 more in interest over the life of the loan.
Looking at the picture of rent prices for 2023 is like a tale of the first three quarters compared to the last quarter of the year. If you were unlucky enough to be negotiating a new rent contract last January, the average price was up 17.4% from the year prior, according to data from ApartmentList.com.
That number is astronomical, and it did fall throughout the year, but rent growth didn’t get below 7% before October. This means that for much of the year, rent nearly kept pace with home price growth if you compare it to major indexes like Case-Shiller’s 20-city index.
And although it didn’t rise as fast as home prices, you’re also not getting anything back from the transaction in terms of investment. All of these factors need to be considered when you make the decision of whether to rent vs. buy. Unfortunately, it also thoroughly cut into the ability for some to save for a home, which added to the challenge for many first-time buyers.
The older I get, the more I tend to believe that the best possible superpower would be the ability to predict the future. Because no one has it, it’s impossible to say with any certainty what’s going to happen in the housing market. But we did call on a few of our real estate agent friends to talk about the trends happening in their area.
We’ll see what they had to say on a variety of real estate-related topics.
With price and inventory, it’s especially important to get a cross-section of the country because it might be cliché, but it really is about “location, location, location.”
Seattle was an area where home prices went way up throughout 2020 and 2021. Because it went so high so fast, it’s also one of the first cities that saw a bit of a price downturn in the latter part of 2022. Daniel Renee is the owner of Flux Real Estate. He says demand in the single-family space is starting to pick back up again.
“There is certainly pent-up demand and we've been seeing bidding wars. Not like it was, but certainly unexpected,” he says. “There's still plenty of condos and townhouses, but as folks keep losing on SFRs (single-family residences) I see demand for those coming back.”
Charmayne Lacewell is a Houston-area agent with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. She views what’s happening in her market as more of a stabilization.
“Noticing a decline in prices in my area (Fort Bend County). However, that is more of a market correction from the COVID time frame and inflation. For this year, the trend is stable with 93% – 98% list to sale price.”
Kyle Gruber is with Tampa-based Agile Group Realty. Despite a short-term trend, he sees prices being pretty steady.
“Home prices have taken a slight dip over the past few months. I believe the prices will level out as the year progresses.”
His colleague Shane Clark adds some context. Generally, prices in Tampa are down a bit, but it depends on what you’re trying to sell.
“We're still seeing pool homes in A-rated school districts move quickly if they are priced in line with comps within the last 90 days. As for home prices in 2023 that depends on where rates are at.”
Clark believes that long-term, sale prices are likely to depend on rates. If rates were to fall a little bit, there is a thought that they could see some slight appreciation in the hotter neighborhoods in the area.
Aaron Argent is a relocation director with Real Estate Masters in Andover, Minnesota. Prices in his market have cooled.
“We are down about 7% from this time last year but as inventory remains tight, we expect and are seeing that rebound a bit now.”
Lionel “LP” Franklin is a broker associate at Keller Williams Realty in Irvine, California. His outlook on prices depends on where you’re looking.
“Home prices are trending down. Prices will continue to decrease in certain areas. Some areas will stabilize faster than others.”
Skylar Trengove serves parts of California and Nevada for Keller Williams Realty.
“After a record-breaking couple of past years that saw mortgage rates plunge to all-time lows and the home prices soar to a new high, now the US housing market is slowing and has declined month over month since June,” he says. “People are being pickier than ever. The DTI (debt-to-income ratio) is higher than we have seen since the great recession and the affordability level is challenging to have buyers to commit to a house. People do not like to catch a dropping knife. This year I project another 10-15% decline.”
Omar Larios is with Keller Williams in Redlands, California. He paints the picture of a difficult market for buyers.
“The overall trend of home prices is heading down. What I predict to happen as the year goes on is for the trend to continue at its current trajectory so long as interest rates remain at the current levels,” Larios says. “The higher rate is putting a lot of pressure on buyers' purchase power and monthly payment. A lot of buyers are being preapproved for much less than what they'd hoped for, or not enough to find a suitable house to buy; and those who are qualified for a good price point don't think they are able to pay such a high monthly payment month in and month out. They are forced to shop at a lower price point which then makes them look at houses that aren't of their liking.”
Vanessa Mkrtumian is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Legacy in Dearborn, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). She says you have to price competitively, but there are signs of life.
“Homes that are priced at market value or below are getting the most action. I can see multiple offers and appraisal guarantees becoming more of a normal again,” she says. “Inventory is still low. Buyers are ready.”
Cyrus Wheeler is the owner of Match Realty in Detroit. Although home prices have been stable for the last several months, he says he could see them dropping over the short- to medium-term depending on a variety of factors.
“I see home prices coming down 10% over the next 18 months if additional mortgage programs are not added, interest rates stay high or if the government doesn’t roll out a national first-time home buyers’ program.”
One of the big things that defines a buyer’s market vs. a seller’s market is home inventory. It all comes down to supply and demand and limited inventory has held prices up.
Wheeler says that inventory in the Motor City is pretty steady.
“Inventory is moderate but its normal for a February market. We are expecting inventory to increase toward late (2023).”
Mkrtumian, from the suburbs of the city, expects competition for listings to be intense.
“Inventory is low. Anything priced right and ready to move in is sold within a few days. We are advising clients to be prepared for multiple offers. Buyers are ready to fight again just like last year.”
Argent says inventory where he is in Minnesota is tight, but things are still a bit different than they were the last couple of years.
“We are still seeing relatively tight inventory. We are advising our clients to be fully prepared for homes to start selling quickly again as we head into spring. Although, with a lot less competition than the previous couple years. We prepare our clients by a thorough market education and having them fully approved. We find this helps once it’s time to advise on the structure of an offer.”
Clark in Tampa says that costs were a big reason homeowners aren’t selling in high numbers.
“Many homeowners don't want to trade their 2% – 3% rate for a 6% rate. Now is still a great time to buy. Sellers are more willing to offer concessions towards closing costs or rate buydowns.”
Meanwhile, Clark’s colleague at Agile Group Realty, Gruber, says that inventory was climbing and the experience you could expect to have depends on the house you’re looking at.
“As more buyers enter the market, I am advising move-in ready and pool homes will still be highly sought after, so they are still likely to not last long on the market and also possibly still receive multiple offers. There are opportunities out there, for homes different from these, that you can get your seller to help with some closing costs, and possibly pay your rate down.”
Franklin in Irvine, California is advising his clients that they should take advantage of seasonal patterns in inventory and home prices.
“Inventory is still low, we should see an increase over the next few months. I am advising my buyers to purchase now for a discounted price and focus on the fundamentals of purchasing a home that will appreciate over time!”
Larios says his market has seen some interesting patterns. He’s advising homeowners to buy a property if they like what they see and that they aren’t tied to it indefinitely.
“As of right now when looking at our current inventory, houses that went on the market within the last 30 days haven't seen a change in their list price, whereas the others have been on the market for more than 45 days and have seen multiple (emphasis original) price reductions,” Larios says. “This is a sample size of 82 houses, but Redlands is a very desirable city to live in. What I am advising clients is if we can find a house that fits their current needs and is within budget, then we should not wait and instead move forward with it. I always remind my clients that the house they buy now will most likely not be their forever house.”
Trengove is reminding clients to take a historical perspective.
“Inventory levels are declining due to sellers not putting their houses on the market because with the high interest rates people would have to sell and lose their low interest rates and then have to buy something smaller to afford the payments with the higher rate. It is a lot of work we have to put into getting these clients in to houses. I am telling my clients don’t time the market. Buy and put time in the market and historically the trend is about 4.5% appreciation every year.”
Lacewell says that in Houston things are waited a bit toward buyers right now. Sellers may be expected to do repairs and be flexible on the price.
“Average days on market is around 59 days. (Sellers should anticipate) having the home on the market at least 60 days before selling.”
In Seattle, Renee is somewhat optimistic.
“We feel good about where the market is going. Folks are getting used to the new norm with interest rates. Not sure if this is people jumping in while they think they still can though. Only time will tell.”
If you needed any further proof that making predictions is hard, you need look no further than the wildly divergent predictions for were mortgage rates were headed in 2023.
Looking at three major mortgage rate forecasts released in November 2022, Fannie Mae saw the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 6.8% in 2023. Freddie Mac had it at 6.4% and the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted an average rate of 5.2%.
We asked our real estate agent network what, if any, advice they were giving their clients regarding rates and expectations?
Renee of Flux Real Estate says that rates may not be as low as they once were, but they are far from the highest either. Because of this, his advice is to make a move if you’re ready.
“You can only choose when to jump in, but you cannot control how cold or hot the water is. Since it's not freezing, that's as good a reason as any when you are focused on the true nature of real estate, which is this: it has always been the long game.”
Lacewell of Houston says she was advising her clients to take advantage of temporary and permanent buydowns of the rate if possible, but also to keep in mind that buying is often the best option.
“Now is still a good time to buy with more realistic pricing vs. renting, as those rates are increasing.”
Gruber of Tampa, Florida, says uncertainty is driving him to encourage some of his clients to try a negotiation tactic.
“If we can get some seller concessions we will try and buy the rate down, but I cannot see the future, so rates remain uncertain.”
Gruber’s colleague Clark was the first to mix mortgage rates and relationship advice, but we heard the same from multiple real estate agents.
“Marry the house and date the rate!” he says in what turned out to be a popular refrain. “I discuss Rocket Mortgage’s® Inflation Buster along with seller concessions to buy the rate down permanently.1 Also, many experts are predicting rates to drop next year which will be a great time to refinance.”
The Irvine-based Franklin says that affordability should be more of a concern than interest in the near term.
“Secure an appreciating asset with a payment you can afford, and refinance in the future.”
Larios says that his biggest challenge with rates is changing the mindset of buyers.
“What I focus on is the buyers' current situation and share with them that if a house has been on the market for a few months we might be able to get seller concessions, which can be used to help buy down the rate and give them a better monthly payment.”
Argent says home buyer education is the key to overcoming rate hesitancy. If they can see why rates were so low in the first place and understand the downsides, it helps create a more positive frame of mind.
“Lower rates are unsustainable in the long run. Creates a buying frenzy that drives home prices up so the market becomes more unaffordable. Higher rates reduce competition for buyers and allows home prices to rise at a more sustainable rate.”
Mkrtumian of Metro Detroit went so far as to say her clients didn’t seem to be that concerned over rates.
“They know that what is out there will not be permanent, she says. “People still need homes.”
Gen Z may be the newest generation to the real estate market, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly motivated. According to a study by Rocket Mortgage, 72% of this cohort plans to buy a home in the next 6 years, but 37.2% of those asked plan to purchase a home in the next 1 – 3 years.
Among the main motivations for a home purchase, 34.2% of Gen Z was looking to grow or start a family. Meanwhile, 20.8% of those surveyed wanted to establish residential stability, and a further 18.2% were sick of renting. Whatever the motivations, expect Gen Z to participate in the housing market in full force in the coming years.
There really is no right or wrong answer to whether you should be buying a house in 2023, or more accurately, not one that applies to everyone. As we heard from some of our agent friends, a lot of the expectations are the inventory will start to rise. Additionally, mortgage rates have settled into a trend that’s at least a little more stable.
If more inventory comes on the market and mortgage rates don’t continue to rise indefinitely, that would help with affordability challenges. But as we mentioned over and over again, no one knows what’s going to happen, so when will you know if it’s going to be a good time to buy a house?
The answer is really something only you can know. If you’ve looked at trends in your area and are comfortable you’ve saved enough and can make a payment based on today’s interest rates, go out and buy now. Again, you’re not tied to the rate forever. You can always refinance if rates get better in the future, as long as you keep your credit in good enough shape.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel you have enough saved for a down payment or you have to work on your credit, there is no shame in waiting. The same goes if you’re not comfortable with the monthly payment at current interest rates
You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where there’s too much of your monthly budget going toward your house payment and keeping you from accomplishing your other financial goals.
The last couple of years in real estate have been unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history with the pandemic and the bounce back. It’s impossible to forecast trends moving forward with perfect accuracy, but many of our expert real estate agents were able to weigh in on what’s happening in their local market.
No matter what happens, if you’re getting ready to buy, it’s important to consider your personal financial and housing situation. If it’s the right time you can start your application online with our friends at Rocket Mortgage. You can also feel free to give them a call at (833) 326-6020.
1 If client locks their initial rate on a purchase loan between 9/15/22 and 3/30/23 client’s loan is eligible for the Inflation Buster offer. The offer will effectively reduce the rate by 1% for the first year of the mortgage; a custodial escrow account will be funded by the lender-paid credit, up to a maximum amount of $9,708, and funds will be dispersed from the escrow account to the investor to account for the difference in interest during buydown period. Offer valid only on primary residences and second homes through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Offer not valid on non-agency Jumbo Loans, Interest Only loans, 2nd lien products, bank statement loans, and manufactured homes. Offer only valid on 15-, 20- and 30-year fixed-rate conventional conforming and government purchase loans in retail channels. Offer may not be redeemed for cash or credit and is nontransferable. Offer cannot be retroactively applied to any loans and may not be used with any other discounts or promotions. This offer is subject to changes or cancellation at any time at the sole discretion of Rocket Mortgage. Additional restrictions/conditions may apply. This is not a commitment to lend and is contingent on qualification per full underwriting guidelines.
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