Recent surveys depict a particularly bleak view of the American housing market, with the majority feeling that now marks the worst time to buy a home. A Gallup survey released last Thursday reveals that only 21% of Americans believe it’s a good time to purchase a house, echoing the record low set the previous year. In contrast, a substantial 76% deem it an unfavorable time to buy, nearly reaching last year’s high of almost 80%.

This entrenched gloom primarily arises from the soaring prices of homes paired with climbing mortgage rates—a combination that poses a significant hurdle for prospective homeowners, especially those in younger age groups. Often described as a “toxic one-two punch,” this mix has triggered an affordability crisis that continues to linger tenaciously.

The Impact of Mortgage Rates

One of the key drivers of this crisis is the sharp increase in mortgage rates. After enjoying years of low borrowing costs, the rates have doubled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage recently adjusted to 7.09% from 7.22% the week before, following five consecutive weeks of increases. This rate is significantly higher than the 3.5% seen in early 2020.

The rise in mortgage rates has directly impacted the affordability of homes. For instance, the monthly mortgage payment on a $500,000 home with a 20% down payment is approximately $900 higher today than it would have been under the lower rates of 2020. Over a 30-year loan period, this equates to an additional $331,200 in interest costs alone.


Despite these high rates, the demand for affordably priced homes remains robust, with many properties receiving multiple offers. This competitive market scenario means many potential buyers are missing out, further exacerbating the frustration among those trying to purchase a home.

Home Prices Continue to Climb

Adding to the affordability issues, home prices themselves have continued to rise. The median existing-home sales price climbed by 5% year-over-year in March to $393,500, marking the highest figure for March on record, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The increases are widespread, with the Northeast experiencing a significant 10% jump to $434,600.

The expectation among U.S. adults is that home prices will continue to rise; 68% anticipate increases in their local areas over the next year. This sentiment is only surpassed historically by the years 2005, 2021, and 2022, demonstrating a continued belief in the upward trajectory of home values.

Silver Lining for Homeowners

Despite the challenges for buyers, current homeowners have seen benefits from the rising market values. The inflation-adjusted median net worth of Americans increased by 37% from 2019 to 2022, largely due to the increase in real estate values. Homeowners have the option to tap into this accrued equity to fund significant expenses such as home renovations, college tuition, or even to cover everyday bills.

Looking Ahead

Experts like Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, suggest that the market could shift later this year. He predicts that as mortgage rates potentially lower and more housing stock becomes available, the opportunities for buyers will improve, regardless of current market sentiments.

In summary, while the current state of the U.S. housing market continues to be challenging, particularly for first-time and young buyers, there remains a cautious optimism that conditions may improve in the near future. As the market adjusts to changes in interest rates and supply, potential buyers may finally find the opportunities they have been waiting for to enter the housing market.