An illustration of a house with a downward facing arrow above it and a percentage sign.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Mortgage rates see biggest weekly drop since December 

Rates eased this week, but they will likely remain elevated throughout the spring months as the Fed waits to take action on interest rates.

March 14, 2024
2 minutes

Key points:

  • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.74% this week, down nearly a quarter of a percentage point from two weeks ago.
  • Rates could go back up in the coming weeks following a hotter-than-expected inflation report that will probably keep rate cuts off the table this spring.
  • Mortgage applications increased but remain behind last year’s pace as inventory continues to build.

Despite inflation coming in a little hotter than expected, mortgage rates eased again this week, indicating that they may steer clear of the 7% mark this spring — but some volatility should be expected.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.74% this week, according to the latest Freddie Mac survey. That's down from 6.88% a week ago and a drop of nearly a quarter of a percentage point over two weeks. It's also the biggest weekly decline in about three months.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.16%, down from 6.22% a week ago.

This week's inflation report, which showed a small increase in the Consumer Price Index in February, makes it even more likely that the Federal Reserve won't start cutting interest rates until June or July at the earliest, said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for Bright MLS. 

While not directly tied to interest rates, mortgage rates tend to follow the federal funds rate set by the Federal Reserve. The Fed is scheduled to meet next week, with most investors and economists expecting the agency to take no action on interest rates.

"In the short-term, mortgage rates may not fall much further this month," Sturtevant said, adding that if there is a continued downward trend this spring, it should bring more buyers and sellers into the market.

Despite a two-week decline in average rates, Mortgage News Daily's survey has shown daily rates moving higher for three straight days, coming in at 7.02% for March 14 — a sign that weekly averages could still crest the 7% level.

Elevated mortgage rates continue to put potential buyers in a tough spot: If they wait until summer to buy, hoping rates will come down by then, they may be faced with higher home prices, said Hannah Jones,'s senior economic research analyst.

Inventory continues to build even as mortgage applications increase

In the meantime, more buyers seem to be done waiting. Mortgage applications increased 7.1% week-over-week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. While trending upward in recent weeks, purchase applications still remain 11% lower than a year ago.

As mortgage activity remains below last year's pace, housing supply continues to build. Inventory is up 19% compared to a year ago, according to Altos Research's weekly update. Altos Founder Mike Simonsen said inventory could be up 40% year-over-year by this summer if mortgage rates remain elevated — and sellers don't get cold feet. 

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