Home buyers and sellers are in for even more holiday cheer this season as mortgage interest rates continued to fall. That makes it more affordable for folks to purchase properties as their monthly mortgage payments will be a little lower. Plus, it may lead to more buyers in the market eager to snap up properties before rates go back. That’s a win for sellers, too.
Despite the Federal Reserve jacking up its own federal interest rates this month, mortgage rates slid down to 4.55% as of Dec. 27, according to Freddie Mac data. That’s down from 4.62% just a week ago—and a nearly nine-year high of 4.94% in November of this year.
Even a single percentage point rise in mortgage rates can add more than $100 a month to a $293,000 home, which is the median home price nationally. And unfortunately for buyers, that little rise can turn into extra tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year, fixed-rate loan.
However, these lower rates are likely only a temporary reprieve, according to Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®. That’s because the Federal Reserve plans to raise its rates twice more next year—and mortgage interest rates usually follow suit. The Fed hiked rates four times in 2018, by 0.25% in each instance.
“Would-be home buyers should prepare for higher rates but keep an eye out for lower-rate opportunities like we’re seeing right now,” Hale said in a statement.
The lower rates may be good for the slowing real estate market. As prices and rates have risen, fewer buyers could afford their dream homes and neighborhoods. So many chose smaller, cheaper abodes; moved to less desirable communities; or were reluctant to pull the trigger. This has led to fewer home sales than expected in 2018, aka a seller’s worst nightmare.
Now that rates are down a bit, more buyers may decide to jump back into the market.
“The negative headlines around the financial markets are concerning, but the economy remains healthy, so the drop in mortgage rates should stem or even reverse the slide in home sales that occurred during the second half of 2018,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement.
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