Mortgage interest rates jump, ending 5 weeks of declines
Shifting market expectations have 30-year mortgage rates on the rise again, hitting 6.39% this week.
- Investors and economists are expecting another rate hike from the Federal Reserve next month, but it could be the last for a while.
- It may be prime homebuying season, but with interest rates rising, mortgage applications have slowed.
After five straight weeks of declines, mortgage interest rates are back on the rise.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.39% this week, according to the latest survey from Freddie Mac. That's up from 6.27% last week.
The turnaround in rates is due to shifting market expectations, said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.
"Home prices have stabilized somewhat, but with supply tight and rates stuck above 6%, affordable housing continues to be a serious issue for many potential homebuyers. Unless rates drop into the mid-5% range, demand will only modestly recover," Khater said.
Although the economy and inflation have cooled in 2023, investors and economists are expecting at least one more interest rate hike next month from the Federal Reserve, said Hannah Jones, economic data analyst at Realtor.com — but it may be the last move by the Fed for a while, and mortgage interest rates could decline in the second half of the year.
"As long as inflation eases, the overall trend for mortgage interest rates will continue downward. Rates may fall below 6% by years' end," said Nadia Evangelou, NAR senior economist.
As perhaps a sign of where rates might be going in the short term, Mortgage News Daily estimated rates to be at 6.75% on April 19, the highest level since early March.
In tandem with rising rates, mortgage applications have started slowing. Applications dropped 8.8% from a week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
"With more first-time homebuyers in the market, we continue to see increased sensitivity to rate changes," said Joel Kan, MBA's vice president and deputy chief economist. "Affordability challenges persist and there is limited for-sale inventory in many markets across the country, so buyers remain selective on when they act."
Interest rates for 15-year mortgages also rose, hitting 5.76% this week. Last week's rate was 5.54%.