In a surprising turn of events, mortgage rates have dropped despite the U.S. Federal Reserve's recent decision to not ease monetary policy in March. The economy remains strong, and inflation is slowing down, which has led to speculation that interest rates may be cut following the May meeting. Experts predict that these rate cuts will consequently lead to a decrease in mortgage rates throughout the year.
According to data released by Freddie Mac on Thursday, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to an average of 6.63% as of February 1st. This marks a decrease of 6 basis points from the previous week, with an even larger difference compared to a year ago when the average was 6.09%.
Additionally, the average rate for a 15-year mortgage is now at 5.94%, down from 5.96% the previous week and significantly lower than the 5.14% rate observed a year ago.
Freddie Mac's weekly report on mortgage rates is derived from thousands of applications received from lenders nationwide when borrowers apply for mortgages. Separate data from Mortgage News Daily indicates that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently stands at an average of 6.75%.
Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, expressed optimism about the housing market: "The combination of a solid economy, strong demographics, and lower mortgage rates are setting the stage for a more robust housing market." He believes that with inflation decelerating, mortgage rates will continue to decline.
Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist at Bright MLS, echoed this sentiment, stating that there is an expectation that the Fed will begin cutting rates this spring. She also mentioned that falling mortgage rates have the potential to increase affordability in the housing market. However, Sturtevant also cautioned that lower rates could lead to more competition among buyers, potentially driving prices upward.
In conclusion, the recent decrease in mortgage rates, contrary to the Fed's decision, has sparked optimism in the housing market. The combination of a strong economy, forecasts for rate cuts, and more favorable lending conditions could result in a more active real estate market in the coming months.
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