Mortgage rates continue a downward trend

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate fell to its lowest level in more than four months, giving some relief to homebuyers faced with higher prices for just about everything, including homes. 

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 6.13% on Thursday from 6.15% last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. A year ago, the average rate was 3.55%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.17%, down from last week when it averaged 5.28%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.80%.

“Mortgage rates continue to tick down and, as a result, home purchase demand is thawing from the months-long freeze that gripped the housing market,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Potential homebuyers remain sensitive to changes in mortgage rates, but ample demand remains, fueled by first-time homebuyers.”

Mortgage rates nearly doubling over the last year, have been devastating to the housing market with sales of existing homes rising-falling for 10 straight months before recovering slightly this week as home buyers try to lock in the recent reprieve in rates.

The National Association of Realtors said last week that existing U.S. home sales totaled 5.03 million last year, a 17.8% decline from 2021. That is the weakest year for home sales since 2014 and the biggest annual decline since 2008, during the housing crisis of the late 2000s.

Though home prices have retreated as demand has declined, they are still more than 10% higher than a year ago. Higher prices and a doubling of mortgage rates have made homebuying much less affordable for many people, but recent rate declines could give some homebuyers new hope.

Rates for 30-year mortgages usually track the moves in the 10-year Treasury yield, which lenders use as a guide to pricing loans. Investors’ expectations for future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasurys, and what the Federal Reserve does with interest rates can also influence the cost of borrowing for a home.

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