What Happens to Housing Prices During a Recession?

March 22nd, 2023

What Happens to Housing Prices During a Recession?

Housing Prices During a Recession 

What happens to housing prices during a recession? Here is a guide to walk you through what to expect with the real estate market when there is a recession. 

If you have never lived through a recession before, here is a guide to help you understand what to expect during a recession and how it can affect the housing market. Recessions are relatively common and usually happen after the economy has peaked.

As soon as experts start discussing a possible recession, people immediately begin to panic. When entering a recession, the best thing you can do for yourself is to plan accordingly. Cut down on your spending, budget your money, and plan for the future.

During a recession, prices tend to inflate and increase to a number you aren't used to. It can be a scary thing because the rate of unemployment usually increases significantly when the economy is in a recession. However, recessions don't usually last longer than a couple of months, and the economy starts rebuilding itself. 

At the end of 2022, experts had been trying to determine if our economy would go into recession. It is still unclear if that will happen, but people started to panic. The market that is affected by a downturn in the real estate market.

In this guide, we will walk you through what a recession is, what it can do to the housing market, whether you should buy or rent a property, and what happens after the economy starts to rebuild. Keep reading to understand what happens to the housing market during a recession. 

housing market crash lower price coins

Now let's get into what to expect during a recession 

What is a recession?

Whenever people hear the word "recession," they panic. Some are still determining what a recession means for themselves and the economy they live in. A recession is a significant, widespread, and prolonged economic decline. 

A recession begins with two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product growth. Recessions aren't typically something that happens out of nowhere. You can usually predict when a recession may hit if you keep track of the economy. 

The National Bureau of Economic Research measures recessions by examining payrolls, industrial production, retail sales, and other factors. Recessions may only last for a couple of months, but the economy could take years to rebuild back to its previous peak.

Recession US Map

What happens during a recession?

Now that you know what a recession means, let's discuss what happens to the average person during one. 

Usually, during a recession, a significant rise in layoffs causes the unemployment rate in the country to skyrocket. Fewer jobs mean people aren't making money; therefore, they must stop spending money. This forces businesses to decline. Companies need to make a profit to produce their goods and services at their standard rate and price.

Unemployment is the main thing an average citizen will face during a recession. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment reached 14% in April 2020. 

You may notice during a recession that some goods and services decline in price. This results from establishments being unable to keep up with their production and can't afford to keep their average prices, or it wouldn't be "affordable." But you may see an increase in other necessities like groceries and gas. 

Recessions are more common than some think. They happen every few years after the economy hits its peak. Budgeting, planning, and saving can help you get through a recession.

What happens to the housing market during a recession?

If you are considering buying or selling a home while the economy is in a recession, we are here to discuss what you may run into. 

The biggest issue about a recession is when we will enter it, how long it will last, what will the housing market look like, etc. However, it is essential to remember that it is sometimes unclear what to expect. 

However, believe it or not, home prices usually tend to drop in a recession. But they don't always decline in every downturn. Home prices dropped four out of five times in the last five recessions. They usually fall at an average of 5% each year the economy remains in a recession.

home for sale neighborhood

Because housing prices may decrease during a recession, some people may find it the perfect time to jump in and buy a home. This is usually done by the homebuyers purchasing with cash and not a large mortgage loan.

Mortgage lenders usually tighten their requirements when trying to obtain a mortgage. They increase their rates, making it more difficult for homebuyers to get pre-approved. This causes less competition among those considering purchasing a home during a recession. This stems from the fact that recessions cause a massive increase in unemployment. Lenders want to be confident that you can afford and pay your mortgage during the hard times.

Another thing you may see in the real estate market during an economic downfall is more foreclosures. Foreclosures happen when people can no longer pay for their homes. This is usually a result of many people losing their jobs during a recession.

Real estate market in 2023

If you have been keeping up with the real estate market, you may have noticed the change that has been happening. The biggest thing homebuyers are facing in 2023 are the skyrocketing interest rates. Towards the end of last year, the interest rates increased substantially after home prices hit an all-time high. 

Entering this year, rates and home prices started to level out a tad. This has caused an influx of homebuyers to decide to begin purchasing a home. However, the housing supply still needs to be improved. Mortgage rates were so low a couple of years ago that they enticed people to go out and buy homes and are now staying put.

Many people are wondering if the housing market will crash. Experts are still determining if the median home prices will decrease, remain the same, or increase as the year progresses. Currently, home prices remain higher than average but lower than they were last year in 2022. The cost of homes depends on where the mortgage rates will go. 

However, there are some signs that the housing market will correct itself. Mortgage rates are starting to decrease slowly but surely. As time goes on, home prices will begin to go down. This market requires patience as there are a lot of factors that determine where it stands.

Working with a local Real Estate Agent when considering buying or selling a home is essential. They are trained professionals and know the market well. Realtors are there for you to gain knowledge and advice on the housing market. If you want to connect with an agent, contact us today. 

Should you purchase a home during a recession?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone is different. Some may have been saving to purchase a home with cash; some may not be worried about unemployment; some are looking for investment properties; some are first-time homebuyers, etc. 

homebuyer contract close key

When deciding if purchasing a home in a recession is a good idea, you must consider the benefits and the drawbacks. For some, it could be the wisest decision they make. And on the other hand, it could be a wrong choice for some. 

If you are confident that you can afford to purchase a home and be able to obtain it throughout a recession and the time following, then buying a home at a low price is a brilliant decision. It all depends on each person's unique circumstances whether they should do it or not. Here are some of the cheapest places to live in North Carolina as of the beginning of 2023.

Check out these pros and cons of purchasing a home during a recession:


  • Less competition
  • Lower prices
  • Possibility of seller concessions


  • Higher mortgage rates
  • Harder to obtain a mortgage
  • Chance of unemployment which may lead to foreclosure
  • Possible difficulty selling your own home
  • Limited inventory for those who decide to buy a home during a recession

Should you rent during a recession?

We have discussed the possibility of home prices decreasing during a recession, but that doesn't necessarily mean rent will also reduce. When renting a home, you need to be at a fixed monthly rent payment. Rent can fluctuate just as much as home prices do. 

You won't see a massive difference in your rent during a recession. It may not go up much, stay the same, or decrease a tad. But no major shock would happen while you are renting during a recession. This then causes another issue.

Most people get too scared to purchase a home during a recession, so they rent. This can cause the competition to increase, making it difficult to find vacant apartments, condos, or houses to rent. 

All these factors are based on where you rent and how hard the recession hits the local economy. In the long run, some people find it better to rent a home while the economy is fixing itself or improving after the recession.

rent condo apartment

What happens after a recession in the housing market?

Often after a recession has hit the economy, the housing market sees a turn while the economy is rebuilding. While prices are still below average and interest rates start to lower, the market tends to shift into a buyer's market.

This usually happens when there is a massive influx of buyers and not enough homes are being sold. When this happens in the real estate market, homebuyers become competitive. 

The people who weren't negatively affected by the recession used this time to go out and purchase homes for a great deal. If you are one of those people, you must remember that the inventory will be limited. 


Do home prices rise during a recession?

It depends. Usually, the cost of purchasing a home tends to fall during a recession. You will find that homeowners are willing to lower their asking prices. You will also find an influx of foreclosed homes being sold by banks.

How much did home prices fall during the 2008 recession?

During this recession, home prices fell 33%. This was the most significant recession since the Great Depression in the early 1900s. 

Is buying a home in 2023 a good idea?

As of February 2023, it is an excellent time to buy a home. Mortgage rates have started to go back down, home prices are leveling out and becoming settled, and buyers are beginning to have leverage over sellers.

Real Estate Market in a Recession - The Conclusion

In conclusion, recessions can be a scary time for everyone. When it is known that a recession may happen or is currently happening, most people start to panic over the unknown. There have been several recessions in America, and each one has been different. Some hit the economy more challenging than others, and usually, it is hard to tell what damage was done until after the recession. 

There is no definitive answer to the biggest question of "should I purchase a home during a recession?" This question will always be different for every single person. It comes down to your circumstances and whether you will withstand the economic downfall and the chance of becoming unemployed. 

It is also important to note that recessions only last for a while. The economy typically only stays in a recession for a couple of months. However, it can take a bit, sometimes even years, for the economy to level back out to what it was before the recession hit.

If you would like to talk more about the housing market during a recession, speak with one of our local Real Estate specialists for more guidance. They are professionals when giving advice based on your personal situations.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.