The 2020 housing market surprised everyone by quickly bouncing back after slumping during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic. What might the coming year hold as the country continues to fight its way through this crisis? The experts at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference last week made these four predictions for the mortgage world in 2021.
- Mortgage Rates Will Rise from Record Lows
As the COVID crisis eases and the economy improves, long-term mortgage interest rates (which hit multiple historic lows this year) will begin to rise. Averaging 3.0% in 2020, the National Association of Realtors forecasts an increase to 3.1% in 2021, while the Mortgage Bankers Association expects to see a jump to an average of 3.3% for next year. That rise could slow the refinance boom a bit, although there are still 20 million U.S. homeowners with rates over 4% who could benefit from the lower rates.
- Home Price Growth Will Slow
If rates start to rise, home price growth might begin to taper off. Skyrocketing prices have been fueled by rock-bottom rates as well as lack of inventory and strong homebuyer demand. Much of the anemic inventory was due to coronavirus complications. “Older homeowners at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, and who have flexibility in the time of their listing, chose to postpone listing their home until we were post-pandemic,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist with the MBA. said. If the COVID situation improves in 2021, more potential sellers will feel comfortable listing, providing additional buyer choices. That coupled with higher rates might mean buyers won’t allow prices to get bid up so quickly. CoreLogic predicts a 4.1% increase in 2021 prices compared to the 7.3% increase in 2020. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR says prices will climb by just 3%, but Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com believes they will jump 5.7%.
- More Homebuyers Will Flee to the Suburbs
As millions of Americans have made home their office this year, many are choosing to leave the big-crowded cities in favor of suburbs with more house and yard space. “Even people who were very content with their home before the pandemic, now some of them are saying, ‘My home is too small,’” Yun says.
Because of this flight, Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, says the Midwest could start to see higher demand in 2021. Specifically, he says Kansas City, Columbus, and Indianapolis will be hot spots in the coming year.
- VA Loans Will Have Another Red-Letter Year
The volume of mortgage loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs almost doubled from 2019 to 2020. This was the first year the VA issued more than 1 million loans. Younger veterans have been taking advantage of these mortgages that require no down payment and have loose credit requirements. Where VA loans used to make up just 2% of the total mortgage market, they jumped to about 10% in 2020. That percentage is likely to increase in 2021 as more veterans age into homeowner ages.
While it is impossible to know for sure what 2021 will hold, based on these expert predictions, we can hope for an even more successful and balanced housing market in the coming months.