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What’s Feeding the Affordability Perception?
What’s Feeding the Affordability Perception?
 
 
Affording a mortgage payment is possible for many prospective homeowners. Why then, by all accounts, is unaffordability plaguing the market?
Researchers at Freddie Mac offered several answers to that question in its latest Insight, the first one being perception. Homebuyers struggling to find reasonably-priced listings perceive the housing market in general as unaffordable — a reasonable conclusion, if their only options to date have been out-of-reach stock.
Secondly, the high likelihood for competition (i.e., bidding wars) is off-putting, both for first-time homebuyers and for sellers re-entering the market. The latter's hesitation is notably tamping down already tight inventory.
"Thanks to very low mortgage rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for the average household despite currently high house prices," says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. "Nevertheless, hurdles to homeownership arise from the difficulty of finding a house. The supply of homes for sale is very tight, especially starter homes, and underwriting requirements are more rigorous than they were in the past."
Would-be homeowners are also not confident about their prospects because their incomes have stayed relatively flat compared to home prices. Incomes have grown by an average 2.4 percent annually since 2012; home ... more

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