While the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine has left a lot of question marks about the future of the U.S. economy at-large, analysts expect the housing market to remain strong and stable in the coming year.
“Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, the housing market performed well in the second half of 2020,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Low mortgage rates and the ability to work remotely continued to propel the demand for housing, which is reflected in home sales reaching levels not seen in 15 years.”
Whether you’re a potential homebuyer, a current homeowner, or considering selling, here are some of the biggest takeaways of Freddie Mac’s Quarterly Forecast:
• Interest rates are likely to remain low. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) hit a record low over a dozen times in 2020. The low-interest-rate environment is projected to continue through 2021, with the 30-year FRM expected to average below 3 percent. Low rates are good news for buyers looking to purchase a home, and homeowners looking to reduce their mortgage payment through refinancing.
• Home sales to remain high. The demand for housing is expected to remain strong in 2021, creating a favorable market for sellers. Last year, low mortgage rates and the ability to work remotely drove up home sales (the measure of the number of homes sold every month). This year, home sales are expected to ride that wave, averaging 6.5 million for the year.
• House prices to grow moderately. In the second half of 2020, the high volume of home sales and low supply of housing drove up house prices. In 2021, house price growth is expected to moderate for the full year.
• Refinances to start declining. Low mortgage rates spurred refinance activity in 2020, boosting mortgage originations (the process in which borrowers apply for a home loan) to historic highs. As mortgage rates rise modestly in 2021, refinance activity should start to slow. “While many homeowners took advantage of these low rates in last year, evidence suggests that many lower-income homeowners still have the opportunity to strengthen their financial position by refinancing,” says Khater.
For more insights on housing, visit Freddiemac.com/research. For home buying and homeownership resources, visit My Home by Freddie Mac.
Many of the trends that shaped the market last year, especially historically low mortgage rates, will continue to drive housing activity in 2021. As you embark on your journey towards your home goals, be sure to have a firm understanding of today’s market conditions.