Home prices have rebounded nicely with the latest median home price on a single-family home at $220,600 in the U.S., up from around $160,000 just few years ago.
Such a robust price gain from the trough would imply less affordable conditions. But data is says home buying is still attractive because price gains have been partly neutered by lower mortgage rates. Moreover, income has grown a bit from job creation and falling unemployment rate.
A typical monthly mortgage payment for recent homebuyers was $867 if purchasing a middle-priced home at the prevailing mortgage rate and having put 20 percent down payment. That translates into 15.9 percent of monthly gross family income now, compared to the average of 21.3 percent over the past three decades.
The overall debt servicing costs, including mortgage and everything else, have also been trending down and reached historic lows. Low interest rates are also holding down payments on credit cards, auto loans, and other consumer borrowing costs. Moreover, a very high percentage of cash-sales of homes in recent years have held down the overall mortgage debt for the country.
Are you happy today? Incredibly, research shows one variable that has very high correlation to today’s happiness. It’s about how well one slept the night before. Along with this, be mindful of the common saying: “One who is careful when borrowing has but few cares and fewer sorrows.”
Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at NAR. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.