- Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2020.
- The higher your interest rate, the more money you will end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
- Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at their lowest for 2019. Rates like these haven’t been seen since February 2018!
Last week’s survey results reported an interest rate of 4.35%. This is a welcome change from the near 5% rates seen in mid-November. At 4.32%, the second week of February 2018 was the last time rates were this low. This can be seen in the chart below.
Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sam Khater, had this to say:
“Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week, continuing the general downward trend that began late last year.
Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.”
If you plan on buying a home this spring, meet with a local real estate professional who can help prepare you for today’s market before rates increase!
The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate, the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to know where rates are headed when deciding to start your home search.
Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019.
How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?
Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly. But don’t let the prediction that rates will increase stop you from purchasing your dream home this year!
Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.
Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble like the one we experienced a decade ago. One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit.
In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:
“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”
A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:
“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”
How do today’s mortgage standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?
The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracts mortgage standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. While the chart below shows the index going back to that period between 2004 and 2007 when loose standards caused the housing bubble, we can see that, though the index has risen slightly over the last several years, we are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis.
If anything, standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.
Mortgage interest rates have increased by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year. They are projected to increase by an additional half of a point by year’s end. Because of this increase in rates, some are guessing that home prices will depreciate.
However, some prominent experts in the housing industry doubt that home values will be negatively impacted by the rise in rates.
Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:
“Understanding the resiliency of the housing market in a rising mortgage rate environment puts the likely rise in mortgage rates into perspective – they are unlikely to materially impact the housing market…
The driving force behind the increase are healthy economic conditions…The healthy economy encourages more homeownership demand and spurs household income growth, which increases consumer house-buying power. Mortgage rates are on the rise because of a stronger economy and our housing market is well positioned to adapt.”
Terry Loebs, Founder of Pulsenomics:
“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices. These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective home buyers.”
Laurie Goodman, Codirector of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute:
“Higher interest rates are generally positive for home prices, despite decreasing affordability…There were only three periods of prolonged higher rates in 1994, 2000, and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. In each period, home price appreciation was robust.”
Industry reports are also calling for substantial home price appreciation this year. Here are three examples:
- The Home Price Expectation Survey says that prices will appreciate by 5.8% this year.
- The Freddie Mac Outlook Report is looking for home prices to appreciate by around 7% in 2018.
- The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 5.2% on a year-over-year basis.
As Freddie Mac reported earlier this year in their Insights Report, “Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing,”
“As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, had this to say:
“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week.
Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”
But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?
Investopedia explains the relationship like this:
“The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”
You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.
As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don’t worry; rates are still well below the averages we’ve seen over the last four decades.
“Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”
Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.
If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you’re at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up too.