With so much happening across the country and the costs of everything on the rise, you might be wondering how all that’s impacting real estate.
Will we see more skyrocketing home values? How will the real estate market shake out in our current economic climate? Whether you’re selling, buying or staying put, here are the 2023 real estate trends to watch!
Real Estate Trend #1: Home Inventory Is Low but Growing
The real estate market has been dealing with low inventory for a while now. That just means there weren’t enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand—a real estate trend that only got worse during the craziness of 2020. But the trend may be taking a turn. Inventory has been moving upward since May 2022, and November saw the year’s largest month-over-month jump since then (and about 46% over the same time last year).1
Still, the number of active home listings in November 2022 was around 38% lower than the pre-2020 levels of November 2017–2019.2 But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through what to expect if you decide to buy or sell soon.
What Low Inventory Means for Buyers
Lower-than-normal inventory means you need to be on your toes when you go house hunting because the best homes will likely be snatched up fast. In November 2022, most homes spent 56 days on the real estate market—18 days less than typical pre-2020 levels.3
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That doesn’t leave much time to hem and haw over your home search. If you want to find a good home in this slim market, here’s some advice:
- Sacrifice some wants. If you can’t find the house you want, be willing to give up some nice-to-haves for your must-haves. Find the least expensive home in the best neighborhood you can afford and upgrade over time.
- Expand your search. Is the location where you plan to buy too competitive? You might be surprised at the gem you can find in a less popular neighborhood. Working with a real estate agent who really knows the area is the best way to find a home that fits your budget and lifestyle.
- Get preapproved ASAP. Getting preapproved for a mortgage before you go house hunting is a must in any market. And it’s even more important when home supply is low. If you don’t do this legwork ahead of time in a market like this, you could give a preapproved buyer free rein to swipe the home you want right out of your hands.
What Low Inventory Means for Sellers
If you’re selling a home, low inventory means less competition! So if your home is in a great location or has features that buyers want, you can probably expect to see multiple offers coming your way.
On the other hand, higher mortgage interest rates have knocked some buyers out of the market (more on that later). So if the house you’re selling isn’t the most appealing house on the block, you’ll still get offers—but you’ll likely get fewer offers than a house like yours would’ve received in the last couple of years.
One more thing to keep in mind: Make sure you know where you’ll be living next before you sell. If you’re buying a new home after your current home is sold, there’s no guarantee that the new owner will allow you to stay there until you decide (although you could make that part of the buying agreement).
Real Estate Trend #2: Annual Home Values Are Still Rising
Yes, home prices are still going up year over year. The national median home price for active listings increased by 11% to $416,000 in November 2022 compared to November 2021.4 But that rate actually trails behind the average 16% annual growth rate seen in June and July—which may be a sign that the speed of home price growth is calming down.5,6 That means 2023 will probably be a pretty slow growth year.
And since there’s still strong buyer demand and a shortage of homes for sale, prices aren’t going to plummet. They’re dipping a bit from month to month (which is a normal seasonal trend for prices after they peak in early summer)—but they’ll still be higher than they were at the start of this year.
So, if you’re a seller, that should put a smile on your face. And hang tight, buyers—we have some advice for you too.
What Higher Prices Mean for Buyers
If you’re going to buy a home in this expensive market, you absolutely have to know how much house you can really afford. Commit to staying within that budget no matter what—don’t cave to the pressure to buy because you’re tired of watching competitors pluck good homes off the market.
We know waiting on the right home that you can fit into your budget can get frustrating. But you’ll be glad you did it when your home is a blessing instead of a big, honking headache of a mortgage payment you can’t afford!
To feel confident about buying a home this year, follow these tips:
- Limit your house payment to no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay. This payment includes principal, interest, property tax, home insurance, homeowners association (HOA) fees and, if your down payment is lower than 20%, private mortgage insurance (PMI)—an extra fee added to your mortgage to protect your lender (not you) in case you don’t make payments.
- Save a big down payment. Ideally, you’ll want to save a down payment of at least 20% to avoid PMI. For first-time home buyers, a smaller down payment like 5% to 10% is okay too—but then you’ll have to pay PMI. Saving a big down payment is possible! You just have to stay patient and focused. Who knows. You might even be able to save a five-figure down payment (or more) by this time next year!
- Choose a 15-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage. The lowest total cost home loan (and the only one we ever recommend) is a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Expensive rip-offs like the 30-year mortgage, FHA, VA, USDA and adjustable-rate mortgages will charge you tens of thousands of dollars extra in interest and fees and keep you in debt for decades. Stay away from those!
Now it’s time to crunch the numbers with our free mortgage calculator to figure out a monthly payment your budget can handle. And then work with an expert real estate agent to find houses for sale within that budget.
For more help buying a home, check out our free Home Buyers Guide. It has all the answers you need to buy a home with confidence.
What Higher Prices Mean for Sellers
A nice profit may be on the horizon! And that’s great news because you’ll really want that extra money when buying your next home. To get the best offer on your home, work with an experienced agent who really knows what’s up in your local real estate market.
And be sure to wait for the right offer. Some buyers may try to gut punch you with a low number. If you aren’t in a hurry to move, wait for an offer that gives you the most profit. Remember, the least desperate person always has the upper hand when negotiating.
Real Estate Trend #3: Mortgage Interest Rates Are Higher
The average mortgage interest rate (the interest fee lenders charge as a percentage of your loan amount) was lower than it’s ever been in 2021. But it’s gone up since then.
Because the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in 2022, the average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped from 2.8% in January of 2022 to 6.36% in October—the highest it’s been in over 15 years!7 Meanwhile, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached 7.08% in October.8
By the way, that’s a big reason we only recommend 15-year mortgages: They tend to have lower rates than 30-year mortgages, and since they end 15 years sooner, you’ll pay less interest over time. That’s a one-two punch when it comes to saving money!
What Higher Rates Mean for Buyers
Higher interest rates can put a dent in affordability. So don’t feel pressure to buy a house you aren’t ready for. But don’t let it scare you either. A high interest rate on a house you can afford is still doable.
Remember to stick to our advice on the monthly payment limit, down payment amount and mortgage type (see Real Estate Trend #2), and you’ll be in great shape!
What Higher Rates Mean for Sellers
Higher interest rates mean fewer buyers will be motivated to buy your home. So while houses were selling like hot cakes a year or so ago, your house might be on the market a little longer now. Prepare to be patient while waiting for offers.
Real Estate Trend #4: Online Real Estate Services Are Growing
No doubt you’ve heard of real estate services like Zillow that let you browse or list homes for sale online. But did you know online services now offer to buy and sell your house for you?
Here’s how the new iBuying trend works: You tell companies like Opendoor about the house you want to sell. They buy it from you, pump some money into it to resell at a higher price, and handle all the home processing stuff like inspections, repairs and home showings.
These companies promise you less hassle and charge you pretty much the same as an agent commission for selling costs—but it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Some of these companies include an additional service fee (icing on their cake), which may mean less profit for you.
Worst of all, you don’t get the benefit of working with a top-notch agent who actually knows the current real estate market in your area and could sell your home for more money.
Using a “Virtual” Agent
Hybrid services like Redfin aim to reduce traditional agent commissions by handling things online. This gives you some of the services you’d get if you worked with an agent, but for a fraction of the cost. Think of it as a middle ground between selling with an agent and selling by yourself.
When selling a home, be wary of any middle ground. Your home is your biggest asset, and you get what you pay for! Having the peace of mind that you’ve got a dedicated real estate agent on your side through the whole process is worth the extra money (and helps you avoid any extra headaches). Why go virtual when the experience of a real person is so much better?
Mobile or Online Closings
In related news, digital technology also makes it easier to handle virtual documents needed for buying and selling. For example, many home transactions now use electronic signature apps and remote online notarization to streamline the process. In other words, you could buy or sell a house this year without getting out of your car or ever changing out of your bathrobe and slippers.
You can expect to see more of these trendy digital services pop up in real estate in 2023 and beyond. Just remember not to get swept up in every hot new trend. Use your brain, your budget and a great professional real estate agent to make sure you’re getting the best deal on the right house for you.
Real Estate Trend #5: Risky Buying Options Are More Accessible
Okay, let’s cover some of the other trendy and “creative” ways to purchase a home (beware!).
If you’re itching to buy a home but can’t quite afford it yet, some sellers like Divvy offer a rent-to-own agreement. In this (bad) deal, you agree to rent the home for a while—anywhere from several months to several years—before becoming the owner.
The “plus” side of rent-to-own is that you can get into a house fast without waiting to save a down payment (but you know how we feel about that). Also, you don’t have to qualify for a mortgage right away.
The downside of rent-to-own is that it makes your rent more expensive because some of your monthly payment will go toward future homeownership. With rent prices increasing across the country, now’s not the time to pay even more!
And if you later decide you don’t want to buy the house or something happens to break your contract (like you don’t get approved for the mortgage), you won’t get all those extra payments back. They’ll have been a waste! Plus, you may have to handle repairs and maintenance yourself, even while renting. Talk about a bad deal!
Bottom line: Rent-to-own is a seriously dumb way to get into a house, so don’t get taken in. If you can’t afford a home yet, don’t buy one. Keep saving for that down payment and wait until your financial ducks are in a row. It’ll happen sooner than you think if you’re willing to work at it!
Down Payment Loans
Another risky real estate trend to avoid is taking out a personal loan to fund a down payment. That’s the same as buying a home with 0% down. You borrow the entire cost of the house—except this way you borrow it from two different companies at two different interest rates (which means twice as many headaches).
Purchasing a home with no money down is never a good idea. Remember, you want a down payment that covers at least 5% to 20% of the home’s value. Buying a house with anything less will keep you from reaching other financial goals because you’ll have to pay too much extra in interest and fees. Thankfully, not many mortgage lenders allow you to do this—and it can even disqualify you from getting the mortgage you need.
What if I’m Not Buying or Selling a Home This Year?
You may be thinking, All this is great, but I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. We hear you, and here are the real estate trends you should watch for now:
1. Equity will probably level off compared to last year.
Experts have different opinions on how the market will turn out. Freddie Mac believes home prices will go down by 0.2% in 2023.9 And the National Association of Realtors (NAR) thinks price growth will increase slightly by 0.3%.10
Whichever one turns out to be true, the bottom line is this: Home prices will stay pretty much the same. And depending on how long you’ve owned your home, you can still make a profit if you end up selling. And if you decide to stay put? Your equity may increase a little, which will help with your net worth. Just keep an eye on how much your home is worth to make sure your equity (what your home is worth minus how much you owe on it) is going up.
2. A real estate market crash looks unlikely.
With all the uncertainty behind everything that happened in 2020 and with home prices growing a little slower in 2022, you might be wondering if the housing market could collapse. Well, it’s impossible to know for sure, but real estate experts suggest a housing crash is unlikely.
While mortgage rates are higher than they’ve been in many years, the NAR predicts that the rates will peak in 2023 and may even go down, which will bring demand up. But there’s still a relatively low supply of home listings, which the NAR says will stay that way in 2023. This keeps home buying competitive and allows home prices to hold steady.
3. Regardless of your neighborhood, buyers are interested.
Since home prices have gone way up over the past few years, some buyers may be less choosy. In fact, determined ones might be willing to consider neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to highways or aren’t close to a big city. If you think you live in an unpopular neighborhood or believe your home isn’t what buyers are looking for, think again. Now may be the perfect time to consider selling your house.
Take Control of Real Estate Trends With an Experienced Agent
Whether you’re selling or buying, you can take advantage of the current real estate market trends by partnering with an experienced agent.
To find agents who earned the right to be called RamseyTrusted, try our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. Our team will match you with top-performing agents we recommend in your area.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the current real estate market trends?
The current real estate trends going into 2023 are all about the market slowing down and approaching something normal. Year-over-year home values are still rising, and 2023 will be a year of pretty slow growth. Home inventory is still low, but the data indicates that it’ll continue to grow throughout 2023.
There are also some rising trends to watch out for. Buying and selling real estate using online services is starting to get more popular, but it’s definitely not smart (hint: hiring a real estate agent is). And risky buying options like rent-to-own are (unfortunately) more accessible than ever.
Will the real estate market slow down in 2023?
Yes. With both a growing supply of houses and an overall demand for housing coming down due to higher interest rates, the market looks to be slowing down to something resembling normal compared to the white-hot performance of 2021 and 2022. Think of the coming year as a regular, manageable fire instead of a gasoline-fueled blaze. Still hot, just not as hot.
As a result, experts are anticipating that home prices—which had year-over-year percentage jumps in the double digits the last couple years—will go up at a more normal rate in 2023.
Is now a good time to invest in real estate?
Yep. No matter what’s going on in the market, real estate is always valuable. (As Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”) And the value of real estate is always going up—even if it’s not by the huge percentages we saw in 2021 and 2022.
If you’re already maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts and are looking for a way to earn some extra income, increase your net worth, (and can do it without going into debt), it’s a great time to invest.
But remember—that doesn’t mean it’s not going to require some hard work on your end. Owning real estate can be time consuming and might cost more money than you’re planning on spending. So make sure you fully understand what you need to invest before taking it on.
Will property values go down in 2023?
Depending on which expert you ask, home values with either go up or down by a fraction of a percentage point. That means the actual value will pretty much stay the same in 2023.
Are house prices going to drop?
Not likely. While there have been small drops in prices due to the higher interest rates, they’re still higher than they were last year, and experts don’t think they’ll go down anytime soon.
Will mortgage interest rates go down?
Real estate experts believe interest rates will peak in 2023 and then slowly start to go down again.
Are we in a housing bubble?
No. In the Real Estate Reality Check, Dave Ramsey explained that the current real estate market is nothing like the housing bubble that burst in 2007 and 2008. For one thing, the current supply of houses is way lower than it was 15 years ago. Second, there’s still super high demand for houses despite the market slowing down a bit. Going into 2023, there are millions more households in America than there were back then, which leads to far more buyers chasing too few houses. A housing bubble, like the one in 2007 and 2008, has the opposite problem in all those areas.