Housing market shows no sign of thawing as spring buying season nears

Although the housing market traditionally thaws every spring, aspiring homebuyers may want to consider an extended hibernation given what is an exceptionally tough market this year.

Home prices last year rose an average of 6.7% in the country’s 20 biggest metro areas, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data. Across the nation as a whole, housing prices rose than 5% over the last year. Driving the increase are higher mortgage rates, which makes homeowners reluctant to sell their properties given the elevated costs of finding a new place, coupled with a dearth of homes on the market.

“It’s just a sort of toxic brew that means that people are not willing to sell houses, and the people who are actually looking for them don’t have a lot of stock, or don’t have a lot of affordable options,” said Javier E. David, managing editor for business and markets at Axios, told CBS News.

The average rate on a 30-year mortgage is now 6.90%, up from 6.77% last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. The difficult conditions have cast a distinct chill on the market — only 4.8 million homes changed hands in 2023, the lowest level since 2011, according to the mortgage lender. Freddie Mac expects home prices to rise 2.6% this year and 2.1% in 2025.


Home inventory remains below pre-pandemic levels

“While the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index continues to show home price resiliency against surging borrowing costs, it also highlights continued headwinds for the housing market, namely elevated mortgage rates and a severe lack of existing homes for sale,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Selma Hepp said in a report. “And as mortgage rates continue to hover in the 7% range, it will be difficult to convince existing homeowners to move at the current time.”

Meanwhile, stubbornly high inflation has dashed hopes of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates before the spring homebuying season begins. 

“We’re in a different place now than we were even a month ago,” David said. “I think markets were expecting the Federal Reserve to start cutting rates sometime in the first half. We’ve had a run of unexpectedly hot inflation data — that means the Fed is not necessarily going to hike rates again, but they’re not in a rush to cut. So all of the hopes and dreams that we had built around this idea that the Federal Reserve was going to be giving us easier policy, the timetable is being pushed back a little bit.”

—The Associated Press contributed to the report.



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