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Home Buying

7 Minute Read

2020 Home Prices: What You Need to Know

7 Minute Read

A map of the United States showing the housing trends across the country.

Whether you’re buying, selling or staying put, the coronavirus outbreak might have you feeling uncertain about whether a change in home prices will impact your housing plans. We get it. There has never been anything like this before, so it’s hard to know how everything will pan out.

That’s why it’s good to look at facts. Facts are your friends—especially in times like these. The cool thing is, home prices haven’t been dropping—a relief for sellers. They haven’t been shooting up at a rapid pace either, which keeps buyers from getting overwhelmed by sticker shock.

While the health crisis is causing many to take a “wait and see” approach toward real estate, National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun doesn’t expect home prices to drop in 2020. In fact, Yun calls the coronavirus’s impact on the market a “temporary softening”—believing a “strong rebound” will likely follow once this virus goes bye-bye.1

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Keeping an eye on home price growth can give you an idea of what to expect if you plan to buy or sell a house any time soon. But don’t let it dictate your housing decisions—only your personal situation and finances should do that. With that said, let’s unpack the latest home pricing trends.

Ready? Set. Go!

Home Prices: A Closer Look

First, let’s rewind a bit. According to data collected by the head honchos of the U.S. Census Bureau, the median home price in 1980 was $148,000 in today’s dollars and then $180,000 in 2000.2 That shows a growth of more than 20% in 20 years.

Fast-forward to March 2019, and median home prices were almost $309,000 nationwide—a growth of more than 70% in less than 20 years!3 That’s almost quadruple the growth of the previous 20-year period! You’ve got to love real estate.

Now for home prices today. As of March 2020, the U.S. median home price was $320,000.4 This marks an interesting point in housing pricing trends. While that price is a new record high compared to any previous March (woo-hoo!), the end of the month marked the slowest rate of growth (2.5%) since 2013.

In a nutshell, if you’re thinking of selling, odds are you’ll still make a high profit. But if you’re waiting to sell because you think your home will double in value soon, don’t count on it.

On the flip side, if you’re looking to buy, with the growth rate cooling down and the market evening out, there’s less likelihood that prices will shoot up like crazy from year to year.

Recent Home Price Trends

Okay, if you listen to any expert blab about real estate for long enough, you’ll learn that location is important. So, let’s see how current existing-home prices change when we look at median prices based on region.

By Region

  • West: $410,100
  • Northeast: $295,400
  • South: $238,000
  • Midwest: $203,7005

Home prices definitely vary widely based on your part of the country. Homes in the Midwest were the least expensive, while those on the west coast sold for the highest prices. For example, homes surrounding San Jose, California are currently the most expensive in the nation with median prices over—take a deep breath—$1.2 million.6

By Age of Home

Unsurprisingly, another factor that dramatically impacts home price is whether you decide to purchase a newly built home or a previously owned one. In 2019, the median price for a new home was $329,750, while a previously owned home was $245,000.7 So, if you’re thinking, I want a home that’s brand-spankin’ new. Just make sure the extra $85,000 for a new home works with your budget.

In 2019, the median price for a new home was $329,750, while a previously owned home was $245,000.7

Most buyers don’t seem to mind living in a previously owned home if it means paying a lower price. In fact, the majority (87%) of the homes purchased last year were previously owned.8

By Buyer Status

It’s also interesting to know first-time home buyers typically purchased homes that were $215,000, while repeat buyers bought $287,000 homes.9 And whether you’re married or single obviously has an influence on the price of the home you buy as well. Take a look:

  • Married couples: $294,000
  • Single females: $200,450
  • Single males: $189,920

By Size

How does size affect price? Last year, the median price per square foot was $140.10 And if you’re wondering what the neighbors are doing, most people purchased homes that were 1,850 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

What Do Today’s Home Prices Mean for You?

Okay, now we know how prices change based on different factors. But what does that all mean for you?

For Buyers

Well, if you’re planning on buying a house, home prices might look intimidating. But remember, just because you saw house prices that other people in the nation are buying, that doesn’t mean you should look for a house in that price range.

Instead, focus on your own budget. Don’t worry about the pricing trends. A good real estate agent can help you find a home you love that’s within your budget.

If you’re not paying in cash, make sure you get a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. And whatever you do, never buy a home that’ll cost you more than 25% of your take-home pay in monthly housing payments (including taxes, insurance and homeowners association fees).

Never buy a home that’ll cost you more than 25% of your take-home pay in monthly housing payments (including taxes, insurance and homeowners association fees).

Use our mortgage calculator to test out different home prices and see how much house you can afford.

For Sellers

When it comes to home prices for sellers, the main question is: How much money can I make on my home sale? Of course, the answer depends on a huge variety of factors. But for a ballpark, recent sellers sold their homes for a median of $60,000 more than they purchased it.11 And that’s almost $5,000 more profit than sellers from the year before. Cha-ching!

Recent sellers sold their homes for a median of $60,000 more than they purchased it.11 And that’s almost $5,000 more profit than sellers from the year before.

To make sure you get what your home is worth, work with a real estate agent who’s experienced in your area. They’ll be able to do a competitive market analysis to find out what similar homes are selling for in your area so you can price your home right the first time.

For Homeowners

Now, maybe you own a home but you aren’t planning on selling it any time soon. You’re probably curious to know how much your home value is growing or appreciating. Well, get this: People who owned their homes for 4–10 years sold them last year for around $48,700–72,200 more than they purchased them—that’s right, tens of thousands of dollars in growth!12

Profits only reached $35,000 for those who owned their homes for 11–15 years—possibly because they had more value to catch up on after the 2008 housing bubble. And those who lived in their homes for 16–20 years before selling earned a median of $87,900. That’s almost a 50% profit!13

So, if you’re thinking about downsizing in the next year or two or planning to buy that retirement dream home, you may be in good shape. And even if you’re not, it’s likely that your home sweet home is going up in value.

The Best Way to Buy or Sell a Home

So, how do you know if you’re buying or selling a home for the best price? Having an experienced real estate agent is hands down the key to making a successful home transaction. You’ll benefit by working with a professional who knows the ropes and can help you keep costs down or get you the value you deserve for your home.

If you’re looking for a great agent, we can help! With our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program, you can find high-performing agents in your local market.

The real estate agents we recommend have deep networks in their communities, which can give you an advantage. They’ll also help you keep your other financial goals in balance.

Find a real estate pro in your area!

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Buy a House With an Agent Who Serves, Not Sells.

You need an agent who cares more about you than their commission check.
Find a Buyer's Agent

Buy a House With an Agent Who Serves, Not Sells.

You need an agent who cares more about you than their commission check.
Find a Buyer's Agent