Should I buy a home now, or wait until later in the year? Will I pay more if I postpone my purchase?
These are perennial questions from home buyers nationwide. And a recent upsurge in mortgage rates has some buyers rushing to close on their loans, out of concern that rates could keep rising in the weeks ahead.
On March 8, 2018, Freddie Mac reported the results of its latest survey of the mortgage industry. This long-running survey goes out to more than a hundred lenders across the country, every week. Freddie Mac’s research team then compiles the results into a weekly mortgage rate average that gives us some useful insight into industrywide trends.
Rates Climb to Highest Level Since 2014
According to the latest report, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan rose to 4.46%, for the week ending on March 9, 2018. That percentage is significant for two reasons:
1. It marks nine straight weeks of rising loan rates. So it’s a trend — not a fluke.
2. It’s also the highest average for 30-year mortgage rates since January of 2014.
According to Freddie Mac:
“The 10-year Treasury yield has been bouncing around in a narrow 15 basis point range for the last month. While the yield on the 10-year Treasury is currently below the high of 2.95 percent reached two weeks ago, mortgage rates are up for the ninth consecutive week. The U.S. weekly average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose 3 basis points to 4.46 percent in this week’s survey, its highest level since January 2014.”
It bears repeating: Mortgage rates haven’t been this high since the start of 2014. And it all happened over the last few weeks.
Average rates rose for other commonly used products as well, and that includes the 15-year fixed-rate home loan and the 5/1 adjustable mortgage (ARM).
Still, the Housing Market Marches On
But the recent spike in rates might not last long. Economists from Freddie Mac said they “anticipate rate increases will be gradual [throughout 2018], allowing housing market activity to maintain momentum.” In other words, they don’t expect the recent upward trend to put a damper on home-buying activity in the U.S.
Home Prices Still Rising in Most Cities
Meanwhile, home prices continue to rise in most parts of the country. And this too has added a sense of urgency to the housing market, particularly among home buyers who are eyeing a purchase in the near future.
In many cities across the U.S., real estate markets are experiencing a shortage of homes for sale. This comes at a time when demand for housing is either steady or rising in most markets. This supply-and-demand imbalance is putting upward pressure on home prices, as evidenced by the 6% to 7% increase in U.S. home values over the last year.
What does the future hold? No one can say for certain. But recent trends within the housing and mortgage industry seem to make a strong case for buying a home sooner rather than later. Buyers who postpone their purchases until later in 2018 could encounter higher housing costs.