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With interest rates significantly higher than they were a year ago, many would-be homebuyers have put their homeownership dreams on hold. But in an otherwise challenging market, a bright spot has emerged.

Over the past several months, housing prices have dropped considerably in many U.S. markets, enough to keep the American Dream of many first-time buyers alive. Here’s what you need to know—and how to help your borrowers take advantage.

Why Prices Are Falling

While housing prices generally rise over the long term, they can go down, too. The Great Recession gave us an extreme example of this phenomenon, when the housing market crashed, and prices fell by 20% or more in many markets.

After the worst was over, prices began a decade-plus climb. And when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, housing demand soared and pushed prices even higher. Today, however, a series of rate hikes by the Fed throughout 2022 has had the opposite effect, causing prices to cool off substantially.

In October 2022, home prices nationwide declined for the fourth straight month, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Many observers see this trend continuing. Recently, in fact, Fannie Mae forecast that home prices will fall 1.5% next year, while Moody’s Analytics estimated prices could drop somewhere between 3% and 8%.

What It Means for Buyers

It’s unlikely that we’ll see home prices drop anywhere near as far as they did during the last recession, since the labor market and other key economic factors are still relatively strong. But in some markets, recent price drops and slightly larger housing inventories offer at least some relief for first-time buyers.

To help them get over the hump, lenders could advise buyers to adjust their expectations and consider more modest options. This may mean a smaller home, a home with fewer features, or a different neighborhood than the one they really want. When home prices eventually rebound, they could sell their house and get their true dream home in the future.

Something else to consider: most existing homebuyers have mortgages that are far below current rates, which is likely to discourage them from selling and taking on a new loan. However, first-time homebuyers don’t have the same frame of reference, so they are less likely to be deterred by today’s higher rates.

Providing an Assist

Regardless of what happens in 2023, home prices are still relatively high, which means coming up with a down payment can add a major hurdle for many first-time buyers—especially Millennials, Gen Zers, and people of color.

However, there are ways to help your clients overcome this obstacle and put them in the driver’s seat. One of these tools is down payment assistance, or DPA. With DPA, your clients don’t have to rely on help from their families or empty their bank account to get into a home.

There are many DPA programs available, too. For instance, CBC Mortgage Agency’s DPA program, the Chenoa Fund, has helped thousands of first-time buyers achieve their dreams of homeownership.

Available for both FHA and conventional loans, DPA through the Chenoa Fund can cover as much as 5% of the cost of your borrower’s home purchase. Plus, everyone who applies for DPA through the Chenoa Fund is provided free homeownership counseling before their home purchase is complete and afterwards, so they can enter homeownership with confidence.

Please visit our website if you’d like to learn more about how your clients may benefit from both lower home prices and DPA by using the Chenoa Fund.

CBC Mortgage Agency – NMLS 1186381

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Illinois Residential Mortgage License #MB.6761292. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking, 100 West Randolph, 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 – 1-888-473-4858. This information is provided by CBC Mortgage Agency and intended for real estate and mortgage professionals only. It is not intended for public use or distribution. Terms and conditions of programs and guidelines are subject to change at any time without notice. This is not a commitment to lend. Equal housing opportunity.