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There's one very good reason to buy a home between now and the end of 2020. Mortgage rates are sitting at historic lows. So if you buy a home now, you have a real opportunity to lock in a low mortgage and set yourself up for affordable housing payments. But here's why it could actually make more sense for you to wait until 2021 to buy a home.
1. Inventory may open up, making homes cheaper
Back in January, the median U.S. home price was $266,200. As of September, it was $311,800. That's clearly a sizable jump, and it largely boils down to a huge lack of inventory.
Many sellers have held off on listing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and it's created a shortage of available properties to buy. In fact, housing inventory is down 32.5% this year compared to 2019, and the basic laws of supply and demand indicate that when a commodity, such as a home, is in short supply, demand rises, and so do prices.
Things may look different in 2021, though. If things improve on the coronavirus front, sellers may be more willing to list their homes. Also, if the economic crisis improves, more sellers might want to shake things up and move. Right now, a lot of people are no doubt keeping things status quo to avoid upheaval when life is already so unsettled. Once housing inventory picks up, prices should naturally start to fall.
2. Mortgage rates could drop even lower, or at least stay comparable
The U.S. economy is highly unlikely to have a magical recovery between now and early 2021, or even mid-2021. Even if a coronavirus vaccine is approved soon to curb the pandemic, health experts agree that the earliest it will be available to the general public is April 2021. Even that timeline is optimistic given the complex storage and distribution logistics of vaccines.
The point is that unfortunately, things are not likely to get back to normal for quite some time, so there's a good chance the low mortgage interest rates we're seeing today will hold steady until the general economic situation improves.
Should you put off your home search?
If you have a pressing reason to buy a home immediately -- say, you've gotten a job offer and need to move for it -- then you may want to buy this year, even if it means paying a higher price for your home. But don't push yourself to buy immediately because you're worried that mortgage rates are about to start climbing.
Even if rates do increase in the new year, those increases will likely be gradual, and if you track rates and see them start to trend upward, you could always pull the trigger then. But if you sit tight, you could end up paying a lot less for a home, thereby maximizing your savings.