Home Loan Interest Rates Just Got Higher

“Optimistic testimony on Capitol Hill from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent Treasury yields higher as Powell stated his outlook for the economy has strengthened since December,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

“We think strength in the economy and pent-up housing demand should allow U.S. housing markets to post modest growth this year even with higher mortgage rates,” Kiefer says.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 1:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.43 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.40 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.10 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.85 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.32 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Asking Prices Zoom to Record Highs

A robust spring market is causing sellers to up their asking prices, according to a preliminary analysis of May data from realtor.com®. Great news, California has dominated the hot list for some months.

“This spring real estate market is coming in strong, just as we expected,”says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Pent-up demand and low mortgage rates are driving consumers into the market with urgency. However, the recurring issue of limited supply is leading to higher prices.”

Source: “America’s 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets for May 2016,” realtor.com® (May 26, 2016)

‘Housing Recovery Threatened’ by Flat Wages

While job growth is picking up nationally, wages remain flat, which is holding back a more robust recovery, the National Association of Home Builders wrote in a recent blog post.

“A significant amount of pent-up housing demand exists, but for it to be unlocked more rapidly, additional gains in wages must be realized,” NAHB economists wrote.

During the recession, all age groups saw a decline in incomes, with the exception of the 65-and-older cohort. Since 2000, those under the age of 24 have seen the largest reductions in income, followed by people ages 45 to 54 (the top-earning age group), NAHB’s analysis shows.

First-time home buyers remain a shrinking number in the housing market. They accounted for 27 percent of existing-home purchases in December, down from 30 percent a year earlier, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Many young adults are facing high student loan debt, stifling their wage growth and ability to qualify for a mortgage, according to NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog.

—By REALTOR® Magazine