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Can Stable Rates Ramp up the Homebuying Season

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady this week according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey that was released on Thursday. The data indicated that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.42 percent and was only slightly up from 4.40 percent last week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were at 4.08 percent during the same period last year.

“Mortgage rates have been holding steady over the past two months,” said Leonard Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. “Rates have bounced around 4.4 percent since mid-February.”

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged from last week averaging at 3.87 percent and was slightly higher than the 3.34 percent average during the same period last year. According to the data, five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) was down from last week’s 3.62 percent to 3.61 percent but indicated an increase from 3.18 percent during the same week last year.

The stability in the mortgage rates bodes well for homebuyers looking at making a purchase this buying season. “For now mortgage rates are still quite low by historical standards, helping to support homebuyer affordability as the spring homebuying season ramps up,” Kiefer said.

And homebuyers remain undeterred by rates this season according to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com“Home buyers remain largely undeterred by the rate increases we’ve seen since the beginning of the year making competition fierce. Homes in March sold 7 percent faster than last year and were 8 percent more expensive,” Hale said. “March buyers had 8 percent fewer homes to choose from which has contributed significantly to these price gains and fast time on the market. In spite of the challenges, home shoppers remain optimistic. Seven in ten shoppers surveyed in March expected to purchase their home by the end of 2018.”

But will this stability last? This remains the big question. And the simple answer is, not if inflation continues to rise. “Rates could break out and head higher if inflation continues to firm. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that the Consumer Price Index increased 2.4 percent over the 12 months ending in March, the largest 12-month increase in a year,” Kiefer said. “If inflation continues to trend higher, we may see two or three more rate hikes from the Fed this year, and mortgage rates could follow.”

Hale agrees: “Rate increases are expected for most of 2018, as the Fed responds to the anticipated strength of the economy and potential inflation. Long-term rates have thus far shrugged off the Fed’s moves, and mortgage rates have followed suit.”

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and editor. A former Online Editor and currently a reporter for MReport, she is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.

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