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Today’s Housing

WHAT’S THE STATE of the property market? Here are the latest statistics:

  • Home prices rose 10.4% over the 12 months through December 2020, as measured by S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. Among major cities, Phoenix, Seattle and San Diego saw the largest increases, all posting 13%-plus gains. Meanwhile, Chicago was the weakest major urban market, but even it rose 7.7%. Nationally, home prices are up 74.9% since the early 2012 market low, but are just 27% above the mid-2006 peak.
  • Existing single-family homes sold for a median $308,300 in January 2021, up 14.8% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, existing condos sold for $269,600, up 8.6% from January 2020. These averages disguise huge variations, with even modest homes in cities on the two coasts often costing three or five times as much.
  • As of year-end 2020, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage cost 2.9%, down from 4% at year-end 2019. Interest rates slumped in early 2020 amid the economic shutdown triggered by the coronavirus.
  • Housing affordability was unchanged in 2020, calculates the National Association of Realtors. Affordability is assessed by looking at the typical home price, typical family income and current mortgage rates. Home prices posted strong increases during 2020, but median incomes also climbed modestly and mortgage rates fell sharply, helping to keep housing affordable.
  • First-time home buyers have a median age of 33, a median household income of $80,000 and account for 31% of house purchases, says the National Association of Realtors.
  • If you remodel your home and then sell within a year, you’ll recoup an average 60% of the money spent—meaning you’ll lose 40 cents of every $1 spent, according to the 2021 cost vs. value report from Remodeling magazine.
  • How much does a good school district add to a home’s value? A 2016 Realtor.com study found that homes within the boundaries of higher rated public school districts are, at an average $400,000, 49% more expensive than the national median and 77% more expensive than homes in lower ranked districts.
  • As of 2019, 64.9% of American families owned their home and 13.1% owned a place that isn’t their main residence, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. That 13.1% includes second homes, rental properties and time shares. The survey also found that, among homeowners, 64.8% have a mortgage or other debt that’s secured by their home.
  • Homes are a major asset for the typical American family—far more significant than stocks, which are owned by just half of all households. As of 2020’s second quarter, the Federal Reserve puts the value of U.S. households’ real estate holdings at $30.8 trillion. For comparison, there’s $8.9 trillion in 401(k) and other employer-sponsored defined contribution plans, and $10.8 trillion in IRAs, according to the Investment Company Institute.

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