December 2019

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2020 Real Estate Outlook: Expert Predictions For Mortgage Rates, Home Prices, Tech And More

Forbes
Aly J. Yale |  Senior Contributor | Real Estate

The 2019 housing market has been one of low rates, high demand and limited supply-particularly on the lower-priced end of the market.

Will 2020 be more of the same? According to experts, yes and no.

We spoke to six mortgage, real estate, and housing professionals. Here's what they say is in store for the year to come:

Mortgage rates will stay low-or maybe go lower.

Mortgage rates currently sit at 3.75%, according to Freddie Mac's most recent numbers-nearly a 1% difference from the monthly average a year ago. The drop in rates caused a surge in refinancing over the last few months, and purchase activity ticked up as well.

According to Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at title insurance and settlement services provider First American, there's "emerging consensus" that rates will remain low next year-likely somewhere between 3.7% and 3.9%, she says.

Forecasts from Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association back this up, both predicting 2020 rates within this range. Fannie Mae actually predicts rates will clock in even lower, vacillating between 3.5% and 3.6% throughout the year.

Sean Hundtofte, chief economist for online mortgage lender Better.com, says that thanks to these continued low rates, refinancing should remain a popular choice in the new year. And for homebuyers, he says, they'll "be able to afford more house than they would have otherwise."

Prices will keep on rising.

Home prices will continue their climb upward, according to experts, largely thanks to tight inventory and high demand.

According to the latest home price forecast from property data firm CoreLogic, home prices should tick up by 5.6% by next September-up from the just 3.5% jump we saw this year.

As Daryl Fairweather, chief economist for real estate brokerage Redfin, explains, "Right now we aren't seeing a ton of new listings. Without more listings coming on the market, there will be more competition starting off in early 2020 and that will lead to more price pressure."

The problem will be worse on the lower end of the price spectrum. According to Ralph DeFranco, chief economist for mortgage insurer Arch MI, entry-level home prices will rise higher than incomes next year-and disappointing construction numbers will only compound the issue.

"Low interest rates and a shortage of starter homes will continue to push up prices," DeFranco said. "This is especially the case for lower price points, since builders have tended to focus on more expensive, higher-profit houses and less on replenishing low inventories of entry-level homes."

It seems the price growth may continue beyond 2020, too. Data from Arch MI shows the chance of home price declines at a mere 11% for the next two years. There are currently no states or metro markets projected to see prices declines in that period.

Inventory will be tight.






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