4 Million Americans Priced Out as Home Rents Rise Significantly, Home Loan Qualifications ‘Skyrocket’

4 Million Americans Priced Out as Home Rents Rise Significantly, Home Loan Qualifications ‘Skyrocket’
Newly constructed single family homes for sale in Encinitas, Calif., on July 31, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Naveen Athrappully

As costs of home ownership rise, millions of Americans have been pushed out of the housing market, according to Harvard University’s annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report released Wednesday.

At today’s home prices, a first-time buyer would have had to shell out $27,400 (7 percent of the sales price) as a downpayment in April on a median-priced home, said the report. This rules out 92 percent of renters, who only have a median of $1,500 in savings. If the downpayment is halved to 3.5 percent, the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home would be $2,020.

“In combination with rising prices, the recent interest rate hikes raised the minimum income needed to afford these payments from $79,600 in April 2021 to $107,600 in April 2022—effectively pricing out some 4 million renter households with incomes in this range,” the report said.

Between December 2021 and mid-April 2022, mortgage interest rates rose by 2 percent, which is equivalent to a 27 percent jump in home prices. As prices increased along with interest rates, the income and savings required to qualify for a home loan “skyrocketed.” This presents a financial burden on middle-income and first-time buyers.

In April 2021, the interest rate was at 3.06 percent, growing to 4.98 percent by April 2022. During this period, the value of a median-priced home jumped from $340,700 to $391,200.

The downpayment and closing costs, which came in at $22,100 in April last year, rose to $25,400 this April. Monthly mortgage payments rose from $1,400 to $2,020 while total monthly owner costs jumped from $2,060 to $2,780.

Persistently Soaring Prices

Home price appreciation across the United States hit 20.6 percent in March 2022, eclipsing the previous high of 20 percent in August 2021. This was also the largest jump in three decades.

“The runup has been widespread, with 67 of the top 100 housing markets experiencing record-high appreciation rates at some point over the past year. And even in the other 33 major markets, home prices increased by at least 9 percent,” the report states.

A recent Goldman Sachs note says the company expects houses to become much less affordable for average Americans despite home price growth slowing down sharply, according to Business Insider. An average American is now much less likely to be able to afford a home when compared to just a few months ago.

“In the US, our latest model update pointed to substantial slowing in home price growth to the low single digits over the next year,” Goldman analysts wrote. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, U.S. home prices have risen by around 38 percent according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

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