MortgageMortgage Rates

Housing market “stuck” as mortgage rates remain above 7%

The 30-year fixed rate declined to 7.12% for the week ending September 7

A slight cooling in mortgage rates wasn’t enough to keep mortgage applications from sinking to a 28-year low.

Freddie Mac‘s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, which focuses on conventional and conforming loans with a 20% down payment, shows the 30-year fixed rate averaged 7.12% as of Sept. 7, down from last week’s 7.18%. By contrast, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 5.89% a year ago at this time.

“The economy remains buoyant, which is encouraging for consumers,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Though while inflation has decelerated, firmer economic data have put upward pressure on mortgage rates which, in the face of affordability challenges, are straining potential homebuyers.”

Other indices showed higher mortgage rates this week.

HousingWire’s Mortgage Rates Center showed Optimal Blue’s 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans at 7.20% on Wednesday, compared to 7.07% the previous week. At Mortgage News Daily on Wednesday, the 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans was 7.33%, up from 7.06% the previous week.

Rates should continue to come down from their peaks, as the inflation and the jobs market are cooling, said Bright MLS Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant.

However, high home prices and growing affordability challenges are the two factors weighing on prospective home buyers, said Sturtevant. She expects a market contraction this fall in the housing sector. 

MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit is of the same opinion:

“The housing market appears to be stuck heading into autumn, with sales activity likely to stay stagnant until housing inventory increases and mortgage rates decline to more affordable levels,” he said in a statement. 

In many markets, renting has become more affordable than owning

The balance between renting and owning in many markets has shifted toward renting as more new apartment construction comes online, noted Sturtevant. Moreover, declining rent prices will likely help move inflation back toward its target in the months ahead, added Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

“Looking ahead, the economy is nearing an inflection point, and mortgage rate volatility may continue until it is clear that the economic landing has actually occurred and we are not seeing a touch-and-go on growth that could reignite inflation,” said Hale.

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