Despite expected real estate trends, the average interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have experienced an unexpected drop. Typically, when the Fed raises interest rates, mortgage rates likewise climb, as seen in recent short-term hikes as recently as March (and with two more that are expected later this year).
However, for the first time since November 2016, Freddie Mac reported rates below 4%. In fact, as of the week following Memorial Day, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.94%, dropping to rates even lower than the same time last year, reaching a new 2017 low.
As nail-biting would-be buyers raise their eyebrows, Wall Street investors are nodding their heads – because while mortgage interest rates are influenced by the Fed’s short-term interest rates, they’re more closely tied to the 1-year U.S. Treasury bond market. Investors consider the short-term bond market safer than volatile stocks.
When investors get spooked (think: market downturn or an unpredictable government administration), they shift their money into bonds, which mortgage rates are an inverse reflection of: Bonds up = mortgages down.
How Long Will it Last?
As lower interest rates translate into lower monthly payments for buyers, many are watching the market with a hopeful eye. Even 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and five-year adjustable rate mortgages are riding the downward trend, pushing buyers into a home-buying frenzy. And with good reason: Rates are expected to continue their gradual climb.
However, with today’s financial and political uncertainty, the ‘when’ is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, home shoppers are trying to take advantage of added opportunities to up-scale (size, location, amenities) as even mere fractions of a point could add up to hundreds more per month in mortgage payments.
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