The housing market’s headline news this year has been the affordability challenge brought on by mortgage rates reaching 20-year highs. Looking ahead to 2024, Zillow® predicts home buyers will have a bit more breathing room — but only a bit.
Buying a home will remain expensive, keeping pressure on the rental market to cater to families that will be renting for longer than previous generations. Many who buy will turn to homes that need some work, according to Zillow’s predictions, and do-it-yourself upgrades and repairs will keep new homeowners busy.
“I expect the beginning of a long healing process to kick off in the housing market next year,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow chief economist. “We know there are a huge number of households in prime home-buying ages waiting for the winds to turn in their favor. While still presenting challenges, the market will be better for buyers, with more homes to choose from and improved affordability. Many will continue to look toward rentals, and given renter demographics single-family rental demand in particular will be strong. Recent deliveries should keep rent growth down, and concessions high in that market, too. This is our breather year.”
More homes will hit the market as homeowners accept that current mortgage rates are sticking around
“Higher for longer” is the key refrain regarding mortgage rates as Zillow economists look ahead to the next year in housing. It’s becoming clear that high mortgage rates have some staying power. Zillow economists expect more homeowners who locked in long-term payments when rates were near all-time lows to list their homes for sale, as they grow weary of waiting for the historically low rates of 2021 to return.
A very small pool of homes for sale has kept competition fairly stiff for most of this year, even with high costs limiting the number of shoppers. With mortgage rates rising over the past two years, homeowners have been reluctant to sell, opting instead to hold onto the ultralow interest rate on their current mortgage. Many of those homeowners will have their eye on a home with a bigger backyard, an extra bedroom or in their preferred neighborhood across town, and Zillow predicts more of these homeowners will end their holdout for lower rates and go ahead with those moves.
More homes on the market would be good news for buyers, spreading demand and slowing price growth.
Home-buying costs will level off, giving hopeful buyers a chance to catch up
A typical home buyer in October would have spent more than 40% of their earnings on their mortgage payment — an all-time high according to Zillow data, which stretches back to the 1990s. While affordability will undoubtedly remain the top concern for potential home buyers in 2024, there is reason to expect those challenges to ease just a bit.
Zillow’s latest forecast calls for home values to hold steady in 2024. Predicting how mortgage rates will move is a nearly impossible task, but recent inflation news gives the impression that rates are likely to hold fairly steady as well in the coming months.
The cost of buying a home looks likely to level off next year, with the possibility of costs falling if mortgage rates do. That would give time for wages and buyers’ savings to grow — welcome news after the rapid rise in housing costs over the past two years.
The new starter home will be a single-family rental
Though Zillow expects some improvement in home-buying affordability in 2024, many households will still be priced out. The median renter is now 41 years old, up from 37 in 2000, and the types of rentals they’re interested in has likely shifted.i
Zillow predicts demand — and prices — for single-family rentals will continue to increase next year as families look for a more affordable option for enjoying amenities like a private backyard or a home that doesn’t share walls with neighbors.
One possible path to more single-family rentals could lie in homeowners deciding to turn their home into an investment property and rent it out, rather than selling it when they move. The ultralow mortgage rates held by many existing homeowners make it more likely that this option would pencil out.
Zillow Rental Manager offers a suite of tools — including free listings, pricing suggestions, background checks, online applications and state-specific lease generation — designed to provide comprehensive support for those seeking rental income from their homes.
More markets will follow New York City’s lead, with rental demand surging near downtowns
Throughout much of the pandemic, and even before, suburban rent prices were growing faster than rents in urban neighborhoods.ii While the gap has narrowed, suburban rents continue to outpace urban rents in most major markets, specifically, 33 of the 50 largest metro areas.iii
In New York City, data from StreetEasy, Zillow Group’s New York City real estate marketplace, shows demand is surging for rentals in commutable areas with easy access to Downtown or Midtown Manhattan, while areas farther from these office-laden neighborhoods are seeing relatively less demand. StreetEasy experts predict a strong year for Manhattan demand in 2024, and Zillow foresees more markets following suit, with rental demand surging near downtown centers.
Renters looking for a place near downtown will likely have more options with this year’s multifamily-construction boom, which means a huge number of new homes have hit the market. More choices for renters looking for a new place means landlords who are trying to attract tenants have more reason to compete with each other on price. That’s a key reason more rental listings are offering concessions.
Traditional home buyers will compete with flippers for homes that need a little TLC
Typically the target of home flippers, homes that need a little work before they qualify for “dream home” status will see increased interest from buyers looking to move in.
Inventory has been far below normal for a while, and though Zillow economists predict more homes will hit the market in 2024, inventory will remain much lower than pre-pandemic norms. Faced with limited choices, buyers will be willing to overlook small flaws, such as an outdated bathroom or kitchen.
The higher cost of buying a home today makes a flip harder to pencil out, so buyers may face less competition from flippers than they might have in previous years. Even with less chance of being subject to a bidding war, these homes won’t come cheap, so expect buyers to frequent their local hardware stores as they work on DIY home improvements. If Zillow’s 2024 home trends to watch are any indication, expect brutalist-inspired features and sensory gardens to be on home improvement to-do lists, but not “cloffices” or Tuscan kitchen designs.
Artificial intelligence will enhance the home search experience
Since 2006, Zillow has been leveraging AI and machine learning to power the Zestimate. Generative AI made waves this year, and Zillow expects AI advancements to streamline the home-shopping and home-selling journey in 2024, improving the experience of buyers, sellers and their agents.
Zillow tech experts expect a variety of new tools and technologies designed for real estate agents next year, allowing them more time to connect with more clients and prioritize face-to-face interactions. Agents have been using AI to assist with writing listing descriptions and to create 3D content for their listings. Next year’s advancements are expected to focus on visual and multimodal capabilities, including more rich media content.
Expect home shoppers to benefit from generative-AI-powered experiences to glean valuable insights and guidance on home financing.
About Zillow Group
Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG) is reimagining real estate to make home a reality for more and more people. As the most visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow and its affiliates help people find and get the home they want by connecting them with digital solutions, great partners, and easier buying, selling, financing and renting experiences.
Zillow Group’s affiliates, subsidiaries and brands include Zillow®, Zillow Premier Agent®, Zillow Home Loans℠, Trulia®, Out East®, StreetEasy®, HotPads®, ShowingTime+℠, and Spruce®.
All marks herein are owned by MFTB Holdco, Inc., a Zillow affiliate. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). © 2023 MFTB Holdco, Inc., a Zillow affiliate.
i Based on a Zillow review of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. Renters are defined as being a head of household in a household that rents their primary residence.
ii According to Zillow Observed Rent Index data at the ZIP code level. ZIP codes were classified as urban, suburban or rural, and month-over-month and year-over-year changes were then aggregated nationally and across metro areas for each classification; those changes were then averaged.
iii Year-over-year changes, as of October 2023.