American Nightmare: It Costs How Much More to Buy a Home?

Sky-high home prices are driving younger buyers out of the market.

The U.S. residential real estate market is so hot the heat is keeping young buyers away from the housing sector.

Now, with young homebuyers historically tasked with being the nation’s “starter home” buyers, the paradigm has shifted as millennials and Generation Z are on the outside looking in on new home purchases.

Nearly half (48%) of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and 44% of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) say they are less likely to buy a home given the state of the housing market over the last two years. That’s compared to 30% of baby boomers and 38% of people overall, according to a new study by Money and Morning Consult,

New home prices have spiked 20% or more, depending on the city and state, in the past two-years. While home-buying reasons vary, pandemic-weary Americans have reassessed their lifestyle priorities and home life (which may not include a work commute anymore) and are willing to pay up to get the house and community where they want settle for the long haul.

That commitment to home and hearth comes with an ample price tag. Consider these industry statistics.

A January study from Real Estate Witch showed that 82% of U.S. millennial homeowners express regret over a recent home purchase. In that demographic, 26% noted their property was too expensive and 30% said home maintenance costs were too high.Median U.S. prices skyrocketed from about $323,000 at the start of 202 to $429,000 in the first quarter of 2022. Even factoring in an 11.5% inflation rate rise during the same two years, the average U.S. house price still remains $68,000 during the same timeframe, according to the U.S. St. Louis Federal Reserve.With home prices rising by 20.6% from March, 2021 to March, 2022, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index, higher home prices are effectively freezing out millions of homebuyers.

“It’s that first-time homebuyer who is really affected by the spike in interest rates,” said Mike Miedler, CEO of Century 21, in a recent Yahoo Finance Live interview. “If you look back a year ago, you need about $30,000 to $33,000 more household income in order to afford the home at today’s interest rate at the median price.”

The Housing Market Has Problems Rising

The real housing problem – unaffordability – isn’t going away soon, experts say.

“Housing affordability continues to be a major challenge,” said Yatin Karnik, a former Wells Fargo mortgage executive and the founder of Confer, Inc., a company that helps residential home buyers find affordable mortgages. “We have seen sustained price appreciation and now adding salt to injury with rising mortgage rates, is a double whammy for borrowers; especially first-time home borrowers, which comprise one-third of the purchase market.”

With rising interest rates being imperative to taming inflation during this upcoming buying season, affordability will be further stretched for borrowers. “This affordability factor will most likely weigh heavily on the housing market,” Karnik told TheStreet. “(But) I anticipate seeing a further reduction in prices as investor demand slows.”

Other experts see a market downturn by autumn.

“I don’t see relief completely, but I do think that by the end of the summer, around August into early September, we will see price drops,” said Ralph DiBugnara, founder and president of New York City-based Home Qualified. “We’re already starting to see price drops in some regions. The homes that are on the market currently that are overpriced are being reduced, so I believe we will see a 10-15% drop in prices between now and October or November.”

According to DiBugnara, most of the price drops will be on overpriced homes, but overall, prices will be reduced according to their specific market.

“With that, new homes coming to market will be priced at what their real values are,” he told TheStreet. “So, there is definitely relief coming in that sense for buyers.”

Additionally, according to Redfin, competition in offers was down last month for the first time in a year. This is a sign of a slight cool-down.

Strong Housing Demand Still in Play

Currently, real estate professionals are still seeing strong demand.

“Buyers are still buying even with higher prices due to increases in income and investment values,” said Nicole Rueth, senior vice president at The Rueth Team at Fairway Mortgage, in Denver, Col.

Rueth says she understands that affordability is becoming a topic of concern for an entire generation of buyers.

“Even so, I tell my clients to get in as soon as they can, waiting only costs them more,” she told TheStreet. “Also, opportunities for refinancing are ahead of us, giving them the ability to lower their monthly payment.”

With home prices skyrocketing, with no definite relief in sight, you can’t blame younger buyers for noting the death of the American Dream – home ownership.

“You might not see a complete death of the American Dream but you may see that this might be more of a delayed realization. It may only be achievable for many later in life,” said Ruth Shin, founder and CEO of PropertyNest, a real estate listing and home services site. “It may also be very difficult for people whose parents don’t own their own home or any equity to achieve this dream at all as often parents help out their adult children with major purchases such as buying a home.”

“Younger generations may have to also rethink the type of home they can build or buy that might work for them,” Shin said.

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