A brief ‘window of opportunity’ is now open for homebuyers as mortgage rates fall, but experts warn of a ‘longer term war that is not yet over’

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A brief "window of opportunity" is now open for homebuyers as mortgage rates fall, but experts are warning of a "prolonged war that is not over yet".
While turkey and pies have been significantly more expensive this Thanksgiving season, Americans have something to be thankful for: Mortgage rates continue to fall.
Borrowing costs plunged for the first time after encouraging October inflation data showed consumer prices rose 7.7% in October - slower than economists had predicted.
But don't celebrate yet. Many pundits still believe that further rate hikes by the Fed could push average mortgage rates back into the 7% range in the coming weeks.
“Home shoppers have had to contend with nearly triple volatility in mortgage rates this year compared to a typical year. As inflation and the economic outlook continue to evolve, and the Fed continues to monitor and respond, volatility may very well deteriorate before it begins to improve,” writes Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“Markets interpreted the October inflation data as the Fed winning. However, Fed policymakers have made it clear that they view this victory (a month's inflation data) as a battle in a longer-term war that is not yet over.”
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30-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is down to 6.58%, Freddie Mac reported on Wednesday. Last week the 30-year rate averaged 6.61% and a year ago it was 3.10%.
That drop in interest rates could present a "window of opportunity" for shoppers trying to save on their monthly payments, says George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com.
“Following generally higher mortgage rates throughout 2022, the recent turnaround in buyer favor is welcome,” writes Ratiu.
"It could save a home buyer at the average price more than $100 a month compared to what they would have paid when interest rates were above 7% two weeks ago."
15-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average 15-year fixed-rate home loan also fell to 5.90% this week, from 5.98% last week. A year ago at this point, the 15-year rate averaged 2.42%.
Despite lower interest rates, many buyers may remain locked out of the housing market.
"A long-term housing shortage is keeping home prices high even as the number of homes for sale on the market has increased, and buyers and sellers may find it harder to match price expectations when financing costs are fluctuating so wildly," Ratiu says .
"A cooling rental market, with rental growth moving back towards historical norms, could provide a haven for hesitant homebuyers to regroup and perhaps reassess their plans in the new year."
Rent growth has slowed for the ninth straight month, according to Realtor.com, with the average asking rent in the country's top 50 metropolitan areas falling to $1,734.
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The rapidly slowing market is breaking more records
Pending sales plummeted over 32% in October compared to the same time last year, marking the largest drop on record, according to Redfin's latest monthly report.
And nearly 60,000 home purchase deals failed - a record 17.9% of deals that were signed.
Nearly a quarter of homes for sale also saw their prices drop, double the rate last year.
"The Fed's actions to curb inflation are causing the housing market to slow at a pace not seen since the financial crisis," said Chen Zhao, Redfin's head of economic research.
“There are already early but encouraging signs that inflation is cooling, leading to a fall in mortgage rates last week. If this progress continues, buyers who have recently backed out of business could return to the market and sellers may be less inclined to lower their prices.”
However, the Fed has announced that more rate hikes could be on the way - although they may not be as aggressive as previous hikes - which could push mortgage rates higher again.
Mortgage applications continue to rise
Mortgage applications are up another 2.2% since last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
"The drop in mortgage rates should improve the purchasing power of prospective homebuyers, who have been largely sidelined as mortgage rates have more than doubled over the past year," said Joel Kan, MBA's vice president and associate chief economist.
While refinancing activity was up 2% week-on-week, it's still 86% lower than at this point last year.
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This article is informational only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without any guarantee.

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