Affordable Home Sales Are Up While Luxury Home Sales Decline: Report

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Fourth-quarter sales of the most affordable homes were up 11.3% year-over-year while luxury home sales plummeted 16.3% in the same period, according to new data from Redfin Corp RDFN.

What Happened: Affordable homeownership opportunities have been elusive in many parts of the country for years, but Redfin attributed much of this new uptick in affordable homes for sale to owners putting their properties on the market as the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic-era mortgage forbearance and foreclosure moratorium programs came to an end.

As a result, new listings of the most affordable homes rose 31% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while new listings in other housing market tiers either grew by less than 5% or were in decline.

“The market for homes at lower price points is booming for a few reasons,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “Not only is there demand from workers who are now earning higher wages, but investors who have an appetite for lower-priced homes are buying up properties at record rates.

“And with the end of both mortgage forbearance and the foreclosure moratorium,” Fairweather added, “many homeowners who don’t have much cash in the bank are choosing to sell their homes to clear their mortgage debt, providing plenty of supply to meet the high demand.”

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What Else Happened: As for the decline in fourth-quarter luxury home sales, Redfin pointed to the surge in this sector’s sales activity in the fourth quarter of 2020 when affluent buyers took advantage of historically low mortgage rates and the new focus on remote work. Based on this, the supply of luxury homes fell 21% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, compared to the 18.6% increase in the supply of affordable homes over the same period.

Prices for luxury homes continued to rise — a 17.3% year-over-year spike to about $1 million. The prices of the most affordable homes also rose, with a 10.9% annualized uptick to $127,500. And somewhere in-between, the median sale price for mid-priced homes jumped 18.8% year-over-year to $310,000, the biggest increase of all the price tiers.

Also Happening: In other housing market data news, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported that mortgage applications decreased 7.1% for the week ending Jan. 21 from the previous week. The MBA’s Purchase Index was down 2% week-over-week while its Refinance Index fell 13% — the latter was also 53% lower than the same week one year ago.

“All mortgage rates in MBA's survey continued to climb, with the 30-year fixed rate rising for the fifth consecutive week to its highest level since March 2020,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “The 30-year fixed-rate is now 77 basis points higher than it was a year ago.

“Unsurprisingly,” Kan added, “borrower demand for refinances subsided, with applications falling for the fourth straight week. After almost two years of lower rates, there are not many borrowers left who have an incentive to refinance. Of those who are still in the market for a refinance, these higher rates are proving much less attractive to them.”

Photo: Mohamed Hassan / Pixabay

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Posted In: NewsTop StoriesReal Estateaffordable homeownershipHome SalesHousingluxury homesMortgage Bankers AssociationpropertyRedfin
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