Mortgage rates have been moderating over the past six weeks, declining significantly after hitting a 7.08% high last month. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is settling into the 6% range, averaging 6.27% this week, Freddie Mac reports.
Homeownership has become nearly 10% more affordable in this time as rates have eased. The average monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home has fallen to $2,140, Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting for the National Association of REALTORS®, writes on the association’s blog. “Unless inflation surprises with an upswing, mortgage rates will move closer to 6% at the beginning of the next year, bringing more buyers back to the market,” Evangelou notes.
But will buyers find enough homes on the market? For now, potential sellers appear hesitant to list their homes, adds Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Many of those homeowners are carefully weighing their options, as more than two-thirds of current homeowners have a fixed mortgage rate below 4%,” Khater says.
Mortgage rates are about double what they were a year ago. As such, home sales activity is declining. Still, yearly activity is only 4% lower than the historical average, Evangelou says. Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 22:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 6.27%, down from last week’s 6.31% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.05%.
- 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 5.69%, rising from last week’s 5.54% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.30%.