In a welcome development for potential homebuyers, mortgage rates in the United States have continued their downward trajectory, reaching a four-month low. According to a recent report by Alex Veiga, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage dropped to 7.03%, down from last week’s 7.22%. This marks the sixth consecutive weekly drop in rates, providing relief to those navigating the challenging housing market.
Freddie Mac, a prominent mortgage buyer, shared the encouraging news on Thursday, emphasizing the positive impact on both long-term and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. The average rate for 15-year mortgages fell to 6.29%, making it an attractive option for homeowners looking to refinance. These declines follow a recent pullback in the 10-year Treasury yield, a key factor influencing loan pricing.
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, acknowledged the relief these lower rates bring but stressed the need for further drops to consistently stimulate demand in the housing market. The recent shift in mortgage rates is particularly significant for prospective homebuyers facing an unaffordable housing market, characterized by a persistent shortage of available properties.
The average rate on a 30-year home loan exceeded 6% in September 2022 and has remained above that threshold since then. In late October, it reached a high of 7.79%, the highest level recorded since late 2000. While the current rates provide increased purchasing power for borrowers, they remain notably higher than just two years ago when the average rate stood at 3.10%.
This substantial gap between current rates and those of two years ago contributes to the low inventory of homes for sale. Homeowners who secured historically low rates two years ago are hesitant to sell in the face of higher current rates. Despite the improvement in affordability due to lower mortgage rates, the housing market still grapples with challenges, including a 20.2% decline in sales of previously occupied U.S. homes through the first ten months of the year.
The recent decline in mortgage rates has sparked renewed interest in home loans, as evidenced by the fifth consecutive weekly increase in mortgage applications reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association. While the positive trend is encouraging, it is essential to note that the average rate on a 30-year home loan is projected to remain above 6% in 2024, according to housing economists. This projection underscores the enduring impact of the current economic landscape, with rates still roughly double what they were just two years ago.
As the housing market continues to evolve, the decline in mortgage rates offers a glimmer of hope for prospective homebuyers, albeit with the recognition that challenges persist in achieving sustained affordability.