If you have checked Zillow or spoken with a mortgage professional or real estate agent in the past year, you’ve no doubt heard about the steady increase in home prices that has characterized the housing market. According to ClearCapital’s December Home Data Index, national prices have risen 5.2% over the past year. That increase isn’t limited to the headline-grabbing metros of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, either. Analysts note that those steady price improvements have been widespread throughout the nation. But, are those gains likely to continue in 2016, or are we reaching a peak?
That question was answered by ClearCapital’s Alex Villacorta, who noted that many regions are still far below pre-bust peak levels and could have more room to grow next year. Areas out in the west are reaching all-time highs and might be hard-pressed to keep up the pace. However, Villacorta points out that several “outside” factors could drive up prices in 2016. “(W)e must remember that gains are as much a function of how low prices have fallen as they are a sign of stabilization and outperformance. Investors and consumers alike could also be pushing upward pressure on demand as they rush to purchase existing inventory at current rates before an anticipated rate hike from the Fed arrives.” Other mortgage industry experts, like those at Trulia, agree that the costs are more likely to cool due to the sky-high prices and dwindling affordability, but the midsection of the nation may be on the verge of a “boom.”