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Many first time home buyers are struggling to break into the U.S. housing market as prices continue to rise.

Since 2019, home prices have surged 54 percent. In the last year, prices increased 5.8 percent — a more steady rise after the volatile years of the early pandemic, according to a Washington Post analysis of home value data from the mortgage technology division of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). But high interest rates, low inventory and years of price jumps continue to challenge Americans buying homes.

Prices vary widely depending on where you live. Enter your Zip code below to see how the market value of the average home in your area has changed.

It takes a significantly bigger chunk of the median income now to afford a home than it has on average over the past several decades, said Andy Walden, vice president of enterprise research strategy at ICE Mortgage Technology.

“It’ll take time for the market to come down from the stress it’s faced during the pandemic,” he said.

Costs continue to be elevated by a low number of homes on the market, caused in part because homeowners feel “locked in” to their current houses. It used to be that a typical homeowner could sell and buy an equivalent house across the street and reduce their mortgage payment. Now, homeowners who give up their current interest rate could pay nearly 40 percent more in monthly principal and interest payments if they move, Walden said.

Home prices grew faster in many small cities and rural areas compared to large cities in the last year, as buyers continue to move to the outskirts of major metropolitan areas where prices are often more affordable — a trend that’s persisted since the start of the pandemic.

Several of the biggest drops in home values were in and around Austin, which is in the midst of a years-long housing boom, as tech companies expanded in the region and workers moved from coastal cities to take advantage of the relative affordability.

Prices in Austin’s Travis County fell 2 percent, a leveling off that economic experts say was expected in the heated market. Prices in nearby counties including Hays, Bastrop and Williamson also fell. Overall, four of the ten counties with the biggest price drops were in the Austin metro area.

“Certainly the covid years especially were not a sustainable level of continued growth,” said Emily Chenevert, CEO of the Austin Board of Realtors. “It was pricing people out of a community.”

But that doesn’t mean Austin prices are going to plummet. The average home value in Travis County was $568,000 in March, according to ICE, an increase of 43 percent since March 2020. Prices remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, and don’t seem to be headed for a major drop, especially as Texas’ economy is expected to grow steadily this year.

Austin isn’t the only major city seeing price drops — prices in Manhattan, San Francisco and New Orleans also fell slightly.

By contrast, many of the largest increases in home values in the past year were in rural counties in Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Nationally, it’s gotten more challenging to buy a first home because of price increases mortgage interest rates that remain around 7 percent — more than double what they were three years ago.

“It is painful for those first-time buyers that are trying to enter the market,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.

And those rates likely won’t drop significantly any time soon. The Federal Reserve emphasized last month that it’s not in a hurry to cut rates this year because inflation remains high.

But it’s not all bad news. Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, has seen a recent uptick in sellers marking down prices, and competition for each home is not nearly as heated as it was two years ago. Low demand from buyers and low inventory from sellers has led to somewhat of a balance in the market.

“We’re no longer in this environment where there’s so much demand and sellers are flooded with offers,” she said.

About this story

Editing by Kate Rabinowitz and Karly Domb Sadof. Analysis based on Home Price Index (HPI) data provided by the mortgage technology division of ICE. HPI represents the average home value and is based on price levels derived from a weighted, repeat-sales index measures average price changes in repeat sales or refinancing. The data included the 1,952 counties and 10,875 Zip codes with the highest volume of monthly sales.

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