Will Home Equity Gains Repeat in 2022?

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For the homeowners who were treated to a share in the past year’s record rise in the book value of their homes’ equity, it was at least one saving grace in a year that had more financial potholes than high points. But, as the saying goes, that was then—a burst of home equity growth not apt to be repeated anytime soon. For clues to what lies ahead, the last week of 2021 was crowded with experts opining on what we might expect:

Forbes sided with the NAR’s leading analyst, whose “we expect a whirlwind 2022 for the housing market” sounded an uncommonly optimistic note. She foresees a sales volume increase of 6.6%, along with a continued rise in prices—guesstimated at 2.9% for the year. That advance might seem to be a disappointing falloff, but 2021’s nearly-19% annual gain was the greatest increase since the Feds began indexing prices. It could be said that virtually any annual increase following that surge should be counted as a win on the home equity front.

USA Today reasoned that homebuyers in 2022 will find a changing real estate marketplace. Their expectation that mortgage rates will rise from 3% to 3.6% would create enough of a rise to slow the pace of homeowner value appreciation. That tamer environment would mean that “typical homeowners could gain another $15,000 in housing wealth.”

Following 2021’s “wild ride,” CNN Business advised house hunters to let caution rule their activity (though not “too much” caution). Although the Federal Reserve has signaled that it intends to push interest rates higher, CNNB analysts foresee that by the end of 2022, mortgage interest rates “…will still be lower than the pre-pandemic rate of around 4%.” They expect seller’s market conditions to continue, so buyers should keep their cool despite competitive bidding situations that tempt them to lose track of their budget priorities.

Following a real estate market that “has been white-hot in 2021,” Yahoo.com expects that although it may seem as if real estate markets have cooled, if Fannie Mae’s forecast of a 7.4% rise in home values is accurate, it will still amount to resoundingly “solid growth.”

By comparison, Fortune.com remained cautiously non-committal. Last Monday’s headline reflected the multitude of unknowns that await in the coming year: “Experts debate…real estate shock or a big nothing?” Given the Mortgage Banker Association’s forecast of a home price decline of 2.5%, as opposed to Fannie Mae’s call for a 7.9% price increase (that would be twice the average annual advance), Fortune’s reluctance to go on the record is understandable. Whatever 2022 brings, we’ll be closely monitoring real estate market.