In 2021, existing-home sales rose 8.5% during 2020, the highest level since 2006 as supplies of homes for sale fell to an all-time low of 910,000, equivalent to 1.8 months of available inventory.
In December 2021, housing sales declined 7.1% over December 2020. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) explained that the dip was likely due to supply constraints over decreasing demand from homebuyers. Employment in December rose by nearly 200,000 and the unemployment rate was 3.9%. Also favoring homebuyers, salaries rose 4.7% year-over-year, even while those gains were countered by the highest rate of inflation since 1982, a 7% increase from 2020.
The cost of housing, including owner-occupied and rented homes, rose 4.1%, the fastest rate since 2007. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that building costs rose nearly 19% in 2021 which slowed construction, along with materials and labor shortages. For these reasons, the housing industry is unlikely to increase supplies of new homes by only 2% in 2022, which will make existing homes more coveted.
Homeownership is an excellent hedge against inflation, primarily because buying a home at a fixed price and interest rate where it applies. While home prices and interest rates continue to rise, the cost of housing decreases as long as the homeowner retains the property.
With signs positive that housing demand will continue, NAR predicts that mortgage interest rates will stay under 4% and that home prices will rise 3% to 5% by the end of 2022.