This week, mortgage rates averaged five percent for the first time in over a decade. As Americans contend with historically high inflation, the combination of rising mortgage rates, elevated home prices and tight inventory are making the pursuit of homeownership the most expensive in a generation.
This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased by more than a quarter of a percent as mortgage rates across all loan types continued to move up. Rising inflation, escalating geopolitical uncertainty and the Federal Reserve’s actions are driving rates higher and weakening consumers’ purchasing power. In short, the rise in mortgage rates, combined with continued house price appreciation, is increasing monthly mortgage payments and quickly affecting homebuyers’ ability to keep up with the market.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage exceeded four percent for the first time since May of 2019. The Federal Reserve raising short-term rates and signaling further increases means mortgage rates should continue to rise over the course of the year.
While home purchase demand has moderated, it remains competitive due to low existing inventory, suggesting high house price pressures will continue during the spring homebuying season.
Following two weeks of declines, mortgage rates rose this week as U.S. Treasury yields increased. Over the long-term, we expect rates to continue to rise as inflation broadens and shortages increasingly impact many segments of the economy. However, uncertainty about the war in Ukraine is driving rate volatility that likely will continue in the short-term.
Geopolitical tensions caused U.S. Treasury yields to recede this week as investors moved to the safety of bonds, leading to a drop in mortgage rates. While inflationary pressures remain, the cascading impacts of the war in Ukraine have created market uncertainty. Consequently, rates are expected to stay low in the short-term but will likely increase in the coming months.
Mortgage rates jumped again due to high inflation and stronger than expected consumer spending. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is nearing four percent, reaching highs we have not seen since May 2019. As rates and house prices rise, affordability has become a substantial hurdle for potential homebuyers, especially as inflation threatens to place a strain on consumer budgets.
The economy lost some momentum in January, leaving mortgage rates unchanged from last week and relatively flat for the third consecutive week. This stagnation reflects the economic impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which we believe will subside in the coming months. As economic recovery continues going into the spring and summer, mortgage rates are expected to resume their upward trajectory. In the meantime, recent data suggests that homebuyer demand continues to be elevated as supply remains low, driving higher home prices.
The rebound in homebuyer demand continued this week, driven by mortgage rates that hover near record lows. This turnaround in demand, particularly by those who have higher incomes than the typical household, also reflects deferred sales from the Spring.
Given the recent volatility of the ten-year Treasury yield, it’s not surprising that mortgage rates again have dropped. These low rates combined with high consumer confidence continue to drive home sales upward, a trend that is likely to endure as we enter spring.
Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in thirteen weeks, as investors sought the quality and safety of the U.S. Treasury fixed income markets. The drop in mortgage rates, combined with the strong labor market, should propel a continued rise in homebuyer demand.