Having endured weeks of rising borrowing costs, home buyers in the U.S. have gotten a "second chance" to lock in a lower interest rate.
Last week, the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell below 5% for the first time in months, according to a report by Freddie Mac. Rates had been hovering above 5% for a good couple of months, even going as high as 6% at one point, before slipping lower again by the end of this week.
A second report from the Mortgage Bankers Association suggests home shoppers are already rushing to take advantage of the lower rates. Mortgage applications rose for the first time in five weeks, up by just over 1%, following weeks of declines.
Experts aren't sure if the lower rates are here to stay, with Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater saying that things are likely to remain volatile due to the tug of war between inflationary pressure and a clear slowdown in economic growth.
“The high uncertainty surrounding inflation and other factors will likely cause rates to remain variable, especially as the Federal Reserve attempts to navigate the current economic environment," Khater said.
Freddie Mac said the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage last week averaged 4.26%, with an average 0.6 point, falling from the previous week’s 4.58% average. Meanwhile, the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.25%, with an average 0.3 point, dropping from the prior week’s 4.29% average.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, last week said that the Federal Reserve's most recent decision to increase its short-term fed funds rate by 75 basis points was unlikely to have much impact on mortgage rates.
“The mortgage and longer-term bond markets have settled down in recent weeks,” Yun explained. “The peak in mortgage rates may have already occurred. That’s because oil and gasoline prices have been falling lately and, hence, will lessen broader inflationary pressures. Lower inflation means less aggressive interest rates by the Federal Reserve.”
The decline in mortgage rates provides some welcome relief to home buyers.
“Though still higher than a year ago, the current rate of under 5% means around a 12% reduction in monthly payments compared to when mortgage rates peaked at 6% just two months ago,” Yun said. “Mortgage rates could soon turn upward but are unlikely to retouch the 6% mark. Any dip should be viewed as a second-chance opportunity.”