The housing market's headline news this year has been the affordability challenge brought on by mortgage rates reaching 20-year highs. Looking ahead to 2024, Zillow predicts home buyers will have a bit more breathing room — but only a bit.
Buying a home will remain expensive, keeping pressure on the rental market to cater to families that will be renting for longer than previous generations. Many who buy will turn to homes that need some work, according to Zillow's predictions, and do-it-yourself upgrades and repairs will keep new homeowners busy.
"I expect the beginning of a long healing process to kick off in the housing market next year," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow chief economist. "We know there are a huge number of households in prime home-buying ages waiting for the winds to turn in their favor. While still presenting challenges, the market will be better for buyers, with more homes to choose from and improved affordability. Many will continue to look toward rentals, and given renter demographics single-family rental demand in particular will be strong. Recent deliveries should keep rent growth down, and concessions high in that market, too. This is our breather year."
More homes will hit the market as homeowners accept that current mortgage rates are sticking around
"Higher for longer" is the key refrain regarding mortgage rates as Zillow economists look ahead to the next year in housing. It's becoming clear that high mortgage rates have some staying power. Zillow economists expect more homeowners who locked in long-term payments when rates were near all-time lows to list their homes for sale, as they grow weary of waiting for the historically low rates of 2021 to return.
A very small pool of homes for sale has kept competition fairly stiff for most of this year, even with high costs limiting the number of shoppers. With mortgage rates rising over the past two years, homeowners have been reluctant to sell, opting instead to hold onto the ultralow interest rate on their current mortgage. Many of those homeowners will have their eye on a home with a bigger backyard, an extra bedroom or in their preferred neighborhood across town, and Zillow predicts more of these homeowners will end their holdout for lower rates and go ahead with those moves.
More homes on the market would be good news for buyers, spreading demand and slowing price growth.
Home-buying costs will level off, giving hopeful buyers a chance to catch up
A typical home buyer in October would have spent more than 40% of their earnings on their mortgage payment — an all-time high according to Zillow data, which stretches back to the 1990s. While affordability will undoubtedly remain the top concern for potential home buyers in 2024, there is reason to expect those challenges to ease just a bit.
Zillow's latest forecast calls for home values to hold steady in 2024. Predicting how mortgage rates will move is a nearly impossible task, but recent inflation news gives the impression that rates are likely to hold fairly steady as well in the coming months.
The cost of buying a home looks likely to level off next year, with the possibility of costs falling if mortgage rates do. That would give time for wages and buyers' savings to grow — welcome news after the rapid rise in housing costs over the past two years.
The new starter home will be a single-family rental
Though Zillow expects some improvement in home-buying affordability in 2024, many households will still be priced out. The median renter is now 41 years old, up from 37 in 2000, and the types of rentals they're interested in has likely shifted.i
Zillow predicts demand — and prices — for single-family rentals will continue to increase next year as families look for a more affordable option for enjoying amenities like a private backyard or a home that doesn't share walls with neighbors.
One possible path to more single-family rentals could lie in homeowners deciding to turn their home into an investment property and rent it out, rather than selling it when they move. The ultralow mortgage rates held by many existing homeowners make it more likely that this option would pencil out.