From the NYT:
WHAT prices will today’s home buyers get if they sell a decade from now?
Most people live in their home for many years. They don’t need to view it as an investment at all, but if they do, they surely need a long forecasting horizon.
The problem is that modern economics has a poor understanding of past movements in home prices. And that makes the task of predicting the state of the market in 2023 challenging, at the very least. Still, we can learn something by analyzing the factors that affect home prices in general.
There has been some good news lately: home prices have risen over the last year, and with those gains there has been a renewed sense of optimism. But do these price increases mean that homes are now good investments for the long haul?
Unfortunately, no. We do know one thing from economic research: one-year home price increases, after correcting for inflation, have had almost no statistical relationship to increases 10 years down the road. Thus, the upturn last year is irrelevant to long-run forecasting. Booms are typically followed by busts, usually in far less than 10 years. In a decade, an entire housing boom, if there is one in inflation-corrected terms, is likely to have been reversed and completely washed away.
Inflation has a major impact on long-term home prices. So do the costs of construction. We’ll examine these factors now, and turn to other important influences like speculative pressures and cultural and demographic trends in subsequent columns.
Home prices look remarkably stable when corrected for inflation. Over the 100 years ending in 1990 — before the recent housing boom — real home prices rose only 0.2 percent a year, on average. The smallness of that increase seems best explained by rising productivity in construction, which offset increasing costs of land and labor.
Of course, home prices are likely to be much higher in 2023 when measured in nominal dollars — those that aren’t inflation-adjusted. Inflation is the deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve, with a target rate now of 2 percent a year as measured by the personal consumption expenditure deflator, or about 2.4 percent on the Consumer Price Index. At those rates, nominal prices will be roughly 25 percent higher, over all, in a decade.