MortgageMortgage Rates

Mortgage rates continue their slide toward the 7% mark

The average 30-year conforming rate reached 7.08% this week, down 50 basis points from this year's peak rate in early May

Mortgage rates continued to inch toward the 7% mark following last week’s meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers and new inflation data that showed further cooling of consumer prices.

On Tuesday, HousingWire‘s Mortgage Rates Center showed that the average 30-year rate for conforming loans was 7.08%. That was down 11 basis points from the same time last week and exactly 50 basis points below this year’s peak rate that was recorded in early May.

HousingWire Lead Analyst Logan Mohtashami recently noted that some specific economic signals are working in the favor of lower mortgage rates. These include a decline in the 10-year Treasury yield (which fell from 4.61% on May 29 to 4.24% on June 13) and a narrowing of the spread between the 30-year mortgage rate and the 10-year yield.

“If we took the worst levels of the spreads from 2023 and incorporated those today, mortgage rates would be 0.52% higher,” Mohtashami wrote on Saturday. “While we are far from being average with the spreads, the fact that we have seen this improvement is a plus this year.”

Along with the lower costs of borrowing, prospective homebuyers are also being helped by more homes listed for sale. Data from Altos Research shows that for-sale inventory at the national level grew by 1.5% during the week ending June 14 and has reached its 2024 peak of more than 620,000 homes. For context, the inventory level in mid-June 2023 was less than 452,000.

“If mortgage rates keep falling and demand picks up, we will have a much better buffer with active inventory than in 2022 and 2023,” Mohtashami observed. “My rule of thumb has been that inventory should have some weekly prints between 11,000 – 17,000 as long as rates are above 7.25%. We have hit that three times this year; last year was a whopping zero.”

Last week, as expected, the Federal Open Market Committee left benchmark rates unchanged for a seventh straight meeting, holding them steady at a range of 5.25% to 5.5%. That came a day after the Consumer Price Index for May showed that annualized inflation fell to 3.3%, down from 3.4% growth in April. Fed officials have taken a hardline stance that inflation must move closer to their 2% target before short-term interest rates can be trimmed.

The U.S. employment report for May also influenced the Fed’s decision to leave rates unchanged. The national economy added 272,000 jobs last month, beating estimates of 180,000 and far outpacing the revised figure of 160,000 jobs added in April.

Melissa Cohn, a Florida-based regional vice president for William Raveis Mortgage, said in prepared remarks last week that the Fed’s “updated dot plot was more hawkish than we had hoped.“ She noted that in March, 10 of 19 officials indicated a total of three rate cuts this year. Last week, 11 of 19 predicted one cut or fewer.

“We are back to data-watching. There were no huge surprises in the Fed’s comments or dot plot,“ Cohn said. “Expecting one rate cut should be neutral for the markets, and the Fed’s future actions will depend on the markets. Let’s hope that we see the CPI report next month to show further progress on inflation — then we will have a good summer for mortgage rates and the real estate market.”

A Redfin report released last week noted that even as the U.S. median home price reached another record high of $394,000 during the four weeks ending June 9, declining mortgage rates are helping to alleviate monthly mortgage payment burdens. But Redfin also cautioned that if lower rates lead demand to outpace supply, affordability could take a hit.

”Lower rates and higher prices may ultimately cancel each other out when it comes to homebuyers’ monthly payments,” Chen Zhao, Redfin’s economic research lead, said in the report.

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