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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

U.S. Mortgage Rates Soar to Their Highest Point Since 2002

This week, mortgage rates reached their highest level in 21 years, making it even more challenging for buyers to enter a market already plagued by high prices and poor availability.

Freddie Mac said on Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most common kind of mortgage in the United States, rose to 7.09 percent from 6.96 percent the previous week. The rate for 30 years ago was 5.13 percent a year ago.

Mortgage rates, according to experts, are expected to stay high for the foreseeable future and will only begin to drop gradually by the end of the year. In fact, it hasn’t been this high since April of 2002. In the years following, mortgage rates steadily declined, dropping to below 3% at the outbreak’s onset, much to the delight of would-be homeowners.

However, the housing market has stalled because homeowners with low mortgage rates are reluctant to put their houses on the market because mortgage rates began suddenly climbing last year when the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates to rein in runaway inflation.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales dropped roughly 19 percent from June 2017 to June 2018. Housing prices have remained high due to a lack of available properties: The median price of an existing property in June was $410,200, down just slightly from the record high of $413,800 reached the previous year and the second highest since the organisation started recording the statistics in 1999.

The housing market is not expected to slow down anytime soon, according to analysts. Goldman Sachs raised its house price projection by 1.8 percentage points for this year and 3.5 percentage points for 2024 on Tuesday. Analysts at the bank said in a research that “affordability remains burdensome,” with a limited housing supply and consistent demand for houses being the key reasons.

This is discouraging news for people like Kathleen Schmidt, who together with her husband and two teenagers, now leases a property in Toms River, New Jersey. She said that the recent increase in mortgage rates was worrisome since they were attempting to save for a 20% down payment on a townhouse in the area.

Jeff Ostrowski, an analyst at the personal finance business Bankrate, anticipated that rates will stay high for some years, making homeownership more unaffordable.

Buyers have been encouraged to explore new development due to the shortage of available older houses. According to the Census Bureau, new house sales in June were up almost 24 percent over the same month a year ago. New house development, as measured by housing starts, climbed by around 6% in July compared to the same month a year ago.

It is still challenging for homebuyers to locate solutions that fit their budgets. In an effort to reduce inflation and chill the economy, the Federal Reserve has increased its policy interest rate to its highest level in 22 years. The annual rate of inflation has dropped from about 9 percent last year to slightly around 3 percent last month. However, the recent increase in petrol prices may cause inflation to rise.

Central bank officials have hinted that further rate changes this year are conceivable. They anticipate a rate drop in 2024, but they believe it will be many years before rates revert to pre-pandemic levels.

Mortgage interest rates tend to follow the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds, which in turn is affected by variables such as inflation forecasts, Fed policy, and market sentiment. For the first time since 2007, the 10-year yield was over 4.3 percent on Thursday.

The concern for homebuyers and market observers alike is how much longer mortgage rates will be at historically high levels.

Mr. Yun anticipated that interest rates would begin to decline gradually by next spring or possibly by the end of the year, falling to 6.5 percent but still being more than twice as high as the rate in 2021. However, he noted that the Fed’s anti-inflation efforts and the recent fall in the nation’s credit rating remained a burden on mortgage rates.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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