Still a Good Time to Purchase a Home

Despite some weak economic reports, the Fed decided to taper its bond purchase program by an additional $10 billion, noting that economic activity has picked up and the labor market continues to improve. Beginning in February, the Fed will now be purchasing $35 billion in treasuries and $30 billion in mortgage bonds (the type of bonds on which home loan rates are based). These purchases have been designed to stimulate the economy and housing market, and the figure is now down from the $85 billion in bonds and treasuries the Fed had been purchasing last year.

The timing of further tapering by the Fed will impact stocks, bonds and home loan rates throughout the year. It is a key story to monitor as we move further ahead in 2014.

Now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance, as home loan
rates remain attractive compared to historical levels.

Housing Recovery Entering 2014

 

Zillow’s fourth quarter Real Estate Market Reports show home values increased 1.4% from the third quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014 to $169,100 (Figure 1). 2013 closed on a strong note with the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) up 6.4% from December

2012 levels (Figure 2). On a monthly basis, home values are up 0.6% nationally. Overall, we are seeing a widening slow-down in home value appreciation with some markets showing more of a slow-down than other markets.

In fact, of all metros 83% reported lower monthly appreciation in December than in November (seasonally adjusted), and of the top 35 metros, seven showed monthly home value depreciation. This slowdown was expected, and shouldn’t come as a surprise, as home values have been growing at an unsustainable pace in 2013, especially in many markets in California and the Southwest. Affordability had been decreasing in light of higher home values and rising mortgage rates and is now starting to put the brakes on these extremely high rates of appreciation.

 

According to the Zillow Home Value Forecast (ZHVF), we expect national home values to increase 4.8% over the next year (December 2013 to December 2014). Of the 291 markets covered by the Zillow Home Value Forecast, 265 markets are expected to see increases in home values over the next year, with the largest increases expected in the Riverside metro (16.1%) and the Sacramento metro (11.6%). Many California markets follow closely at the top of the list of markets expected to see the highest home value appreciation over the next year. According to the ZHVF, 265 markets (91%) have already hit a bottom in home values, another 25 are expected to hit a bottom by December 2014. 2014 will bring more for-sale supply to the market, as homeowners are freed from being underwater and demand will be a bit more muted as investors are decelerating their buying activity and rising mortgage rates are putting a damper on consumer demand.