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Housing shortage leads to skyrocketing home prices

Off The Charts Mortgage Rates
Posted at 1:37 PM, May 20, 2022

The housing market is tough to navigate these days.

Blair Thompson is a lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland, who has been looking to buy a home since last summer.

Much of her job is done remotely, so she's checked every corner of the Baltimore and Annapolis regional markets, but sky-high prices keep her at bay.

"It feels embarrassing, to be honest," she said. "Because I got degrees. I have a job. I'm not an irresponsible spender. I have a good credit history. So, it feels like buying a home should be something I can do." 

Ideally, Thompson wants something in the Baltimore suburbs, close to her parents — especially as they age. But she fears it could be a while before she finds one. She's one of many that feel like the cost of homeownership is entirely out of reach.

Home prices in Maryland have increased by more than 11% over the past year, making it incredibly difficult for first-time buyers.

The demand for homeownership grew exponentially once the pandemic took hold, but a housing shortage, supply chain lags, and low-interest rates meant the need simply couldn't be matched, pushing prices to new heights.

However, some real estate agents are confident the prices will cool now that interest rates are higher.

"I think the market is slowly shifting into a more balanced position," realtor Carolina Hurtado said.

But it's not just home prices that are increasing. Rent is also rising across the country, further complicating issues.

Zillow senior economist Jeff Tucker says it's making things particularly difficult for first-time homebuyers.

"First-time buyers who are renting today are really stuck between a rock and a hard place," he said. "They're faced with rising rents if they stay put in the rental market, versus much more costly homeownership opportunities in the purchase market."

The good news is the rise in rent leveled off in April, and the number of people competing to buy homes has also dropped. However, it's unclear how far both will need to fall before would-be first-time home buyers feel hopeful about their prospects again.

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