Zillow: Lack of Affordable Options Will Drive First-Time Buyers Out to the Suburbs in 2016

Growth in home values will outpace incomes, especially for low-income Americans

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

suburban homes(November 30, 2015) – Zillow is predicting that continued deteriorating housing affordability will drive 2016 housing trends. Among those predictions, a lack of affordable homes near city centers will push new and first-time homebuyers to suburbs that feel like walkable, amenity-rich mini-cities. Rising rents will force more young renters to wait longer before buying a home. And the looming threat of rising mortgage interest rates will slowly erode some of the terrific mortgage affordability the market has enjoyed for the past few years.

Zillow’s 2016 Housing Market Predictions:

  • The median age of first-time buyers will reach new highs in 2016 as millennials put off homeownership and other major life decisions;
  • Growth in home values will outpace incomes, especially for low-income Americans.
  • Incomes falling in the bottom third of all incomes will be priced out of homeownership and unable to afford even the least expensive homes on the market;
  • Rising rents won’t let up in 2016, and will continue to set new records. The next year will bring the least affordable median rents ever;
  • As affordable housing close to city centers grows increasingly scarce, people will move farther out. Dense, walkable suburbs with an urban feel – especially those that offer good access to the city – will be 2016’s new hot spots;
  • The median expectation of more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey was for home values to grow about 3.5 percent in 2016.

Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell says, “Rents will continue to increase at a brisk rate in 2016, but many potential first-time buyers are living in hot markets where buying a home is really expensive. In 2016, we’ll start to see more people in hot coastal markets forced to move farther from the core of the city to find housing. When they get there, they’ll be looking for amenity-rich suburbs – mini-cities, with walkable cores and an urban feel.

“As renters gradually transition into homeowners, the historically low homeownership rate should stop falling quite as quickly as it has been. However, the median age of first-time homebuyers – already the highest it has ever been at about 33 – will climb higher. Millennials want to buy, but they are waiting longer than previous generations.

“All of this will happen against a backdrop of slowly increasing interest rates. That will make some homeowners think twice about selling, and many of them will decide to remodel their current homes instead.”

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Jeff Sorg

About the Author

Jeff Sorg is a co-founder of OnlineEd®, a Web-based vocational school founded in 1997 where he also serves as Corporate Secretary, Chief Operating Officer, and School Director. Sorg holds vocational instructor licenses in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada and has authored numerous pre-licensing and continuing education courses. Sorg was awarded the International Distance Education Certification Center's CDEi Designation for distance education in 2008. OnlineEd® provides real estate, mortgage broker, insurance, and contractor pre-license, post-license, continuing education, career enhancement, and professional development and designation courses over the Internet.