Waiting for Home Prices to Drop? Bad Strategy

With mortgage rates retreating from their highest since 2002 and the US housing market cooling, some buyers are expecting to get a deal next year instead of having to contend with sky-high home prices. Unfortunately, that’s just wishful thinking.

Although most economists think rates have peaked — or close to it — the consensus is that rates will hover around 6.5% or 7% for 30-year fixed mortgages for the foreseeable future.

And on home prices, there’s no reason to think we’ll see big declines any time soon. I surveyed half a dozen economists to find out where home prices are headed in 2023. By and large, most are anticipating prices on average to stay within 5% of where they are now.

One of the most bearish scenarios foresees a 20% drop in prices in 2023. But even analysts who expect a drop of that magnitude think it would be spread out over several years.

That’s little consolation for those who had hoped a big decline in home prices could soften the blow of mortgage rates that have doubled over the last 10 months. Consider this: To keep mortgage payments at the historical share of household income (about 18%), home values would need to drop 39% from where they are currently, according to Zillow.