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Record-breaking American Home Prices Reach Unprecedented Heights

Record-breaking American Home Prices Reach Unprecedented Heights

In the past decade, the sales price of a median US home has skyrocketed, doubling in value and rising by 50 percent in just the last five years. Americans are now facing the challenge of having to put up more money than ever before to buy a home, with rising mortgage rates and expensive home prices continuously pushing up housing costs. In fact, according to Redfin, the median U.S. home-sale price hit a record-breaking $383,725 during the four weeks ending April 21, representing a 5.2 percent increase from the previous year. This surge in prices has made buying a home more costly than ever.

The average weekly mortgage rates have reached 7.1 percent, the highest since November last year, as it became evident that the U.S. Federal Reserve would keep interest rates higher for a longer period. These high mortgage rates, combined with elevated home prices, have driven up the median monthly housing payment to a “record” $2,843, reflecting a 13 percent yearly increase.

While new listings have increased by 10.2 percent this year, the total number of available homes for sale remains low. Despite this, the demand for homes remains steady, even with mortgage rates exceeding 7 percent. Redfin Economic Research lead Chen Zhao advises sellers to price their homes competitively to attract buyers and avoid having to reduce their prices later on due to high mortgage rates impacting buyers’ budgets.

For serious buyers who can afford today’s costs, it may be time to shop for their dream home but accept that this year may not be the time to find a bargain deal. While price growth may cool slightly in the coming months if mortgage rates remain high or fall slightly, overall housing costs are likely to remain elevated for the foreseeable future.

Amidst these high mortgage costs, people are opting to buy homes with cash or making larger down payments to minimize the impact of high mortgage costs on monthly payments. According to Redfin, 34.5 percent of homes bought in February were all-cash sales, up from 33.4 percent the previous year. However, not all buyers are in a position to do so, especially first-time homebuyers who lack the equity from a previous home sale.

Unfortunately, high mortgage rates are widening the wealth gap between people of different races, generations, and income levels. This situation has been further exacerbated by surging home prices during the pandemic, creating a reality where only wealthy Americans can afford to buy homes. This has significant financial implications for those who are priced out of homeownership and may impact their children and future generations.

According to a recent Redfin survey, 38 percent of current homeowners do not believe they can afford to buy a home if they were purchasing today. Many respondents have lived in their current homes for at least 10 years, benefiting from rising home values. However, this appreciation in prices has made it daunting or even impossible for many people who want to move.

To purchase a median-priced home, U.S. citizens now need to make over $100,000 a year. The income required to qualify for a home purchase has jumped almost 50 percent over the past four years, making affordability the biggest issue for prospective homeowners. With home values near record highs, buyers have little choice but to pay a high price if they want to own a house.

An analysis by real estate marketplace Zillow reveals that there are currently 550 American cities where the cost of a typical home is $1 million or more, up from 491 cities the previous year. California leads the pack with 210 “million-dollar” cities, surpassing the combined total of the next five states on the list. New York follows with 66 cities, while New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, and Colorado also have a significant number of these expensive cities.

Unfortunately, the possibility of mortgage rates declining significantly is fading due to elevated inflation and a booming economy. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, warns that the recent bad inflation figures in March could translate into bad news for interest rates.

In conclusion, American home prices have reached unprecedented heights, making it increasingly challenging for people to afford homeownership. The combination of soaring home prices and rising mortgage rates has created a reality where only the wealthy can afford to buy homes, exacerbating the wealth gap between different races, generations, and income levels. As housing costs remain elevated for the foreseeable future, prospective buyers may need to adjust their expectations and be prepared to pay a high price for their dream homes.

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