Rates Hold Steady As Prices Continue To Trend Upwards

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Mortgage interest rates held steady this week in response to the Federal Reserve’s much-expected decision to not raise the benchmark interest rate. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate was 7.19 percent compared to 7.18 percent the prior week. The National Association of Realtors released its August Existing-Home Sales report This Week in Real Estate showing home prices continue their upward ascent. The August median existing-home sales price climbed 3.9 percent from one year ago. “Supply needs to essentially double to moderate home price gains,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Below are a few newsworthy events from the third week of September that influence our business:   

A Close Look at the Latest Mortgage Rates, Fed Rumblings, and the ‘Promising’ Future of Housing. In the wake of the Federal Reserve’s much-anticipated decision to not raise rates on Wednesday, mortgage interest rates also held surprisingly steady. For the week ending Sept. 21, rates for a 30-year fixed-rate loan landed at an average of 7.19% – just a hair above last week’s rate of 7.18%, according to Freddie Mac. “Looking ahead, if incoming data continues to align with market expectations, it sets a promising tone for the housing market’s stability,” says Sabrina Speianu, data scientist at Realtor.com, in her analysis. “This, in turn, provides a conducive environment for both buyers and sellers to make more effective long-term plans.” High mortgage rates have been keeping the supply of housing for buyers scarce. New listings have slid for 63 weeks and were down by 6.0% compared with a year ago for the week ending Sept. 16. Overall inventory also shrank, by 4.4% year over year. With the supply side of home inventory being squeezed, home prices have remained stubbornly elevated. “Heading further into the fall season, home listing prices continue to be propped up by a low existing home inventory, as higher mortgage rates contribute to an ongoing existing home inventory crunch,” says Speianu. So, while median prices didn’t hit last year’s record high of $449,000, “it looks like we might stay slightly ahead of last year’s figures throughout the autumn and winter months,” says Speianu. Read the full story here.

US Homebuyers are Waiting for the Fed to Start Cutting Interest Rates. Here’s When 9 Experts Say it’s Going to Happen. While lower rates could be on the horizon, Americans might have to wait awhile. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is over 7%, up from roughly 3% at the beginning of 2022. This has deterred prospective first-time homebuyers from taking the plunge and made existing homeowners reluctant to sell their homes and buy another. Meanwhile, the lack of people selling their homes has contributed to a shortage of housing inventory and helped prop up prices, which may not drop anytime soon. On Monday, economists from some of North America’s biggest banks said they expected the Fed to hold off on cutting rates until sometime between May and the end of next year. “Given both demonstrated and anticipated progress on inflation, the majority of the committee members believe that the Fed’s tightening cycle has run its course,” Simona Mocuta, the chief economist of State Street Global Advisors, said. Read the full story here.

Home Prices Continue to Rise Despite Sales Slowdown. “Home prices continue to march higher despite lower home sales,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Supply needs to essentially double to moderate home price gains.” Low housing supply continues to push up home prices, and eager buyers are showing willingness to pay more. The median existing-home price for all housing types in August reached $407,100 nationwide, a nearly 4% increase compared to a year earlier, the National Association of REALTORS reported Thursday. This also marks the third consecutive month for median sales prices to surpass $400,000. Housing inventory at the end of August was down about 14% compared to last year’s levels, which were already historically low, according to NAR’s report. Seventy-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month, according to NAR. Properties last month typically remained on the market for just 20 days. Home sales are softening due to the limited supply. NAR reported that total existing-home sales dropped slightly by 0.7% in August compared to July. However, “home sales have been stable for several months, neither rising nor falling in any meaningful way,” Yun says. “Mortgage rate changes will have a big impact over the short run, while job gains will have a steady, positive impact over the long run. Read the full story here.

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