Mortgage rates have fallen significantly over the past few months, providing some welcome relief to the housing market after over a year of rising rates. As of January 10th, 2024, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate sits at 6.62%, down over 2 percentage points from the November 2022 peak of 9.6%. This downward trend in rates has renewed buyer interest and brought back affordability to the housing sector.
- Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 6.62% as of January 10th
- Rates down over 2 percentage points from November 2022 peak
- Monthly mortgage payments down nearly $400 from last year
- 33% of Americans predict rates will fall further in 2024
- Housing confidence and demand increasing on lower rates
Table 1: Movement of Average 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates
|Average 30-Year Fixed Rate
|January 10, 2024
Plummeting Rates Restore Affordability
The significant drop in mortgage rates over the past two months has led to increased affordability in the housing sector. Based on current rates, the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home has declined by nearly $400 compared to last year. This 14% decrease marks the lowest level for monthly payments in almost a full year. The improved affordability is luring buyers back into the market across the country.
Areas like San Diego have seen buyer demand pick up thanks to the lower rates. Redfin reported that searches for homes in San Diego were up 25% in December compared to 2021 due to the rate declines. Other buyers who had left the market when rates spiked last year are now coming back, enticed by the newfound affordability.
Industry experts predict rates could fall further in 2024 as the Federal Reserve slows the pace of rate hikes. 33% of Americans now believe mortgage rates will continue to decline over the coming year, the highest level of optimism seen since April 2022.
Homebuyer Confidence Jumps
On the back of lower rates and monthly payments, homebuyer confidence made its largest monthly jump since April 2022. The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index increased 4.5 points in December to 63.8, significantly above the all-time low set in October 2022. This marks the second straight month of notable increases.
More consumers also believe it’s a good time to sell thanks to the rate declines. The share of Americans who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months rose to 35% in December, a level not seen since March 2022. This renewed optimism will likely translate into more homes being listed for sale in early 2024.
Housing Market Positioned for Rebound
While higher mortgage rates crushed demand in 2022, the significant declines over the past two months have put the housing market in position to rebound. If rates stabilize near current levels, analysts predict home sales could climb by 10% in 2024. This renewed activity is desperately needed after last year saw home sales drop by nearly 20% from 2021.
Some experts believe the stars could align for buyers in 2024 if rates trend lower. Sustained declines would provide consistent affordability and likely incentivize more current homeowners to list their properties. This combination of lower rates, increased supply, and moderating home price appreciation would give buyers more options and negotiating power.
Will Lower Rates Last?
The big question facing the housing recovery is whether these lower mortgage rates will persist in 2024. Predicting the movement of rates is notoriously difficult, but most economists believe the current downward trend still has room to run in the first half of the year.
The Federal Reserve is largely in control of rate movements based on their interest rate policy. After four straight 0.75% rate hikes in 2022, the Fed downshifted to a 0.5% increase in December. They also indicated smaller 0.25% hikes could occur at the next few meetings if inflation keeps moderating. Less aggressive Fed policy should keep downward pressure on mortgage rates.
Other factors like declining inflation and easing supply chain disruptions could also contribute to lower rates. But economists caution that global events or market volatility could easily reverse course. Overall, analysts seem cautiously optimistic that the current rate environment provides a window of opportunity for homebuyers in early 2024. But uncertainty still looms large over future movements.
The Path Ahead
After over a year of escalating rates crushed housing affordability and demand, recent rate declines have put the market back on firmer ground. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate now sits at 6.62%, and further decreases could occur in 2024 as the Fed slows the pace of rate hikes.
This renewed affordability has sparked higher homebuyer confidence and demand after dismal activity in 2022. If rates stabilize at current levels, the housing sector is primed for a notable rebound in the coming year. But while the stars appear aligned for buyers today, uncertainty persists around how long the lower rate environment will last. Savvy buyers may want to act quickly if their financial situation permits.
Sustained low mortgage rates would provide consistent affordability for buyers in 2024. But fluctuating rates are likely as the Fed continues balancing inflationary pressures. Homeowners looking to sell could also benefit from today’s rates before additional volatility hits. After the turbulence of 2022, the start of 2024 offers some needed stability and optimism around the housing recovery.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.