Mortgage rates hit 7 percent as Federal Reserve slows economy

Mortgage rates hit 7 percent as Federal Reserve slows economy
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Mortgage rates exceed 7 percent this week, 20-year high and the latest sign that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive moves to slow the broader economy have already hit the housing market hard.

The average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular home loan product, reached 7.08 percent, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac. The last time mortgage rates went this high was in April 2002, and the Fed is scheduled to continue its rise. moves quickly to tame a heated housing market, An important step in lowering rental costs and ultimately suppressing inflation in the wider economy.

The central bank does not directly determine mortgage costs, but The policy rate — known as the federal funds rate — fluctuates in the economy and affects all types of loans. Since March, the Fed has increased rates five times, bringing the benchmark rate from near zero to between 3% and 3.25%. The central bank is expected to raise interest rates by another 0.75 percentage points next week.

Calculate how much more mortgages will cost as interest rates rise

These moves have already triggered significant consequences for the housing market, and the rise in mortgage rates has prompted some. Broader concerns that the Fed is curbing the economy too much power.

“People are like, ‘Well, you know, one percent [added] mortgage rate is still low.’ But within a short period of time we got several percent in mortgage rates,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG.

Post reporters Damian Paletta and Rachel Siegal explain how the economic downturns began. (Video: Hope Davison, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post, Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The average mortgage rate increased at a dizzying pace. It was 3.09 percent a year ago; Even until March, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was less than 4 percent. An increase of 7.08 percent from 3.22 percent in January Now a jump of 3.86 percentage points, the steepest increase rates in a year. The previous record was 3.59 percentage points in 1981.

Prices rose again in September, prompting further rate hikes

For most of the pandemic, low rates meant eager home buyers flocked to the market, competing for the few available homes, and rising prices. But now, buyers who are hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars more per month on a mortgage are yielding, increasing the available home supply and helping prices fall overall. This year, with rates below 4 percent, a family with an average household income of $71,000 could buy a home for $448,700 with a 20 percent down payment. This week, they were able to afford a home for just $339,200, with rates around 7 percent.

House prices are falling at a record pace. The Case-Shiller home price index, released earlier this week, showed that prices were 13 percent higher in August than the previous month and 15.6 percent higher than the previous month. The 2.6-point difference between these two months is the biggest drop in the history of the index, which was released in 1987.

Zillow announced Wednesday that the company is laying off 300 workers in various departments, including home loans and closing services. aforementioned not under a hiring freeze.

Mortgage demand also fell sharply as rates rose. Total application volume is at its lowest level since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing fell 86 percent from a year ago and mortgage lenders Nationwide, including the big banks, the market let employees go as the market slowed. Rising rates have fueled interest in adjustable rate mortgages. The ARM share of applications was 12.7 percent.

Home builders are also being squeezed. Total housing starts fell 8.1 percent year-on-year in September to 1.44 million units in September, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. Until this year Single-family starts are down 5.6 percent from this point last year.

Builder confidence also fell for the 10th consecutive month in October, hitting its lowest level since 2012 excluding the two-month period in the spring of 2020. when the pandemic started. Half the level of six months ago.

“This will be the first year since 2011 to see a decline in single-family startups,” Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. “And given expectations of continued high interest rates due to the actions of the Federal Reserve, 2023 is expected to see additional single-family buildings decline as housing contraction continues.”

Still, the Fed’s tools are limited, and officials routinely point to the housing market as one of the clearest signs that rate hikes are having the desired effect.

“We’re starting to see some adjustments in excess demand in interest-sensitive sectors like housing,” said Fed Chairman Christopher Waller. speech this month. But more needs to be done to bring inflation down in a meaningful and lasting way,” he said.

When? or how the Fed’s rate hikes will beat inflation elsewhere in the economy. Rate hikes are designed to reduce demand, but they do nothing to solve supply-side problems such as oil and gas shortages, affordable apartments, or plugs for new cars. Overall, consumer prices remain stubbornly high, rising 8.2 percent in September compared to the previous year.

Rental costs also rose 7.2 percent last year, and rents It rose 0.8 percent from August to September. Goldman Sachs forecasts total shelter inflation to peak at 7.5 percent next spring, before slowly falling to just under 6 percent by the end of 2023. This has significant implications for Fed policy, as housing costs make up a large portion of the goods basket. It is used to measure inflation in the economy.

As Fed battles inflation, growing concerns that it is over-correcting

However, the slowing housing market may eventually cool rent prices as well. National rent growth slowed to its slowest annual rate (7.8 percent) since June 2021. The US median rental price saw a second month-on-month decline in September in eight months.

The rise in mortgage rates is slowing the market even where it heats up during the pandemic. Throughout 2020 and 2021, sales prices exploded in the Hudson Valley as transplants from New York City and elsewhere clamored for the few existing homes. However, Ryan Basten, co-broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty, said the number of available homes has more than doubled in the past three months, from about 150 units to about 380, as mortgage rates rise.

This is an encouraging sign that the market is returning to a version of normal. But Basten said there is a lot of uncertainty about the future. It marked recent jumps in mortgage rates: 5 percent said “it wasn’t too bad” and 6 percent said percent was “workable”. But with the Fed ready to raise rates two more times before the end of the year, Basten said he and others in the industry “are wondering if there will be a real downturn in the market”.

“We can only deal with what we’re dealing with right now. I can’t see mortgage rates going to 10″ [percent]. If they do, it will feel like a recession,” he said. [percent] feels bad. Ten percent say, ‘Wow, where do we go from here?’ “

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