If you want to know whether this year is going to be good for home buyers or house sellers or both, you need to watch for a couple of factors.
First, take a look at the housing market. A recent uptick in mortgage rates, combined with higher prices and lower inventory, have made buying a home slightly less affordable than it was a couple of years ago. However, mortgage rates are still historically low and, though prices continue to rise, they have slowed down in many markets. That means, though affordability isn't what it was a few years ago, buying a home remains an affordable choice. This is especially true when taken together with recent economic data. That's because, whether or not higher rates will deter potential buyers really depends more on whether or not those buyers feel financially secure and optimistic about their prospects. In other words, if Americans continue to see better job opportunities and higher wages, they'll be less likely to hesitate when thinking about buying a house regardless of where rates and prices go.
According to the most recent outlook from Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group, how things play out will depend largely on young Americans. “Tight inventory remains a boon to home prices and Americans' net worth, but it also continues to price out many would-be first-time homebuyers,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist, said. “However, our research suggests that aging millennials, now boasting higher real wages, are beginning to narrow the homeownership attainment gap.”