Mortgage Payments Growing Even Faster Than Home Prices

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By now most Americans are well aware that home prices have been rising at a pace of more than 6% a year for the past several years. If you’re a seller, that’s good news. If you’re a buyer, not so much. And the outlook for successful buyers is none too pleasant either.

Housing market analyst Andrew LePage at CoreLogic writes that the median sale price of a home rose by nearly 7% last year. At the same time, the cost of the principal and interest portion of the monthly payment on that home has increased by more than 14%.

According to CoreLogic’s forecast, home prices in May of 2019 will be 5% higher than they were in May of 2018. Some mortgage rate forecasts, according to LePage, indicated that mortgage payment increases will have nearly doubled in the same time frame.

Here’s LePage’s calculation:

The U.S. median sale price in May 2018 – $226,674 – was up 6.7 [percent] year over year, while the typical mortgage payment rose 14.3 percent because of a nearly 0.6 percentage point rise in mortgage rates over that one-year period.

Using a consensus forecast for a mortgage rate increase of about 0.31% by May 2019, the CoreLogic forecast suggests that the median sale price of a home will rise by 2.4% in real terms and 5% in nominal terms. LePage writes:

Based on these projections, the inflation-adjusted typical monthly mortgage payment would rise from $929 in May 2018 to $986 by May 2019, a 6.2 percent year-over-year gain. In nominal terms the typical mortgage payment’s year-over-year gain would be 8.9 percent.

Here’s how LePage compares a homebuyer’s current mortgage payments with those of a homebuyer in June 2006, near the peak of the pre-crisis housing market:

[W]hile the inflation-adjusted typical mortgage payment has trended higher in recent years, in May 2018 it remained 27.3 percent below the all-time peak of $1,278 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate back in June 2006 was about 6.7 percent, compared with an average rate of about 4.6 percent in May 2018, and the inflation-adjusted U.S. median sale price in June 2006 was $248,031 (or $199,779 in 2006 dollars), compared with a May 2018 median of $226,674.

So even though a mortgage costs more this year and will cost even more next year, buyers will be paying proportionally less than they did in 2006. Perhaps there is some consolation in that.