- The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate went up 0.7% to 3.22% last week.
- This rate jump follows two weeks of rate drops, showing how quickly rates can change course.
- Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) supports what housing experts have long forecasted for 2021: With lower unemployment, high inflation, and strained supply chains, rates are expected to rise.
- Rates are still near all-time historic lows, but are not expected to remain this low in the long term. If you are thinking of refinancing, it’s still a great time to secure a good rate.
- Homebuyers may want to wait until house prices and demand come down, if possible.
The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate went up 0.7% to 3.22% last week. The increase nearly wipes out the prior two weeks’ worth of rate drops.
When rates start to increase, borrowers may be tempted to wait for them to go back down. But many experts forecast the rising rate trend to continue through the end of the year and throughout 2022. “Over the long term, we aren’t likely to see rates go much lower than their current levels,” Odeta Kushi told us for a recent NextAdvisor story. Kushi is deputy chief economist at First American, a financial services firm.
Experts say it’s never the best strategy to try and time the market, and to focus on personal factors and circumstances instead. People considering a refinance or purchase can still benefit from the current low-rate environment. Even with this recent rate jump, rates are still near all-time historic lows and are nearly a full 1% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Here is a breakdown of the latest rate movement, what we might see going forward, and how borrowers can prepare.
ABOUT THE LATEST MORTGAGE RATES
Last week’s average mortgage rate is based on mortgage rate information provided by national lenders to Bankrate.com, which like NextAdvisor is owned by Red Ventures.
Mortgage Rates: Looking Back
The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was around 3.05% one year ago. That’s 0.17 percentage points lower than last week’s average. Looking at rates two years ago, they were at 3.89% — significantly higher than they are today.
The downward shift in rates over the last two years can be attributed to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 9 million people reported losing their jobs in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics., which meant many homeowners were at risk of defaulting on their mortgage payments. To keep housing affordable, the Federal Reserve implemented policies that drove rates down and allowed more homeowners to take advantage of refinancing to a lower rate and lower monthly mortgage payments.
Mortgage Rates: Current Outlook
Although we did see rates below 3% earlier in the year, they have since been on a gradual upward trend. Last week’s rate increase is consistent with many industry expert predictions of continued upward rate movement. However, 3.22% for a 30-year fixed rate is still considered incredibly low.
Homebuyers can benefit from these lower-than-usual mortgage rates to help offset rising home prices, and homeowners are seeing home equity growth. The additional equity can make it easier to qualify for a refinance loan and get better pricing on a rate and term refinance.
You also have the option to do a cash-out refinance to pay off high interest debt, conduct home improvements, or fund college expenses. Cash-out refinances have grown in popularity this year. Cash-out refinances made a big shift from 37% to 49% of total refinances over a few months earlier this year, according to mortgage data analytics firm Black Knight.
There are signs the housing market is starting to cool down. But it’s important to note that rising home prices can overshadow the potential savings from a low mortgage rate. High home prices force homebuyers to save for larger down payment to keep home budgets in an affordable range or put off buying altogether.
Mortgage Rates: Looking Forward
Looking forward, housing experts predict a continuation of increasing rates into 2022. Current inflation and strained supply chains are cited by experts as driving factors in the current rate trajectory. Last month saw the highest inflation in 31 years.
Unemployment is another factor behind the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower mortgage rates early on in the pandemic, though unemployment is much lower now. Compared to a pandemic-high unemployment rate of 14.8% in April of 2020, October’s unemployment rate was down to 4.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Many experts believe that mortgage rates should go back up as unemployment drops. “Slow and steady growth of the U.S. economy will be the primary driver of higher mortgage rates next year … any increase we may see in mortgage rates hinges on the health of the U.S. economy,” Logan Mohtashami, housing data analyst at HousingWire, told us earlier this year.
With unemployment dropping and inflation on the rise, mortgage rates are expected to continue its upward trajectory.
What This Means for You
Now may be a good time for a refinance. Homeowners who are holding off may want to take another look at whether it could make sense for them. Rates are likely to continue its upward trajectory in the long term, so it may be worth crunching the numbers with a few lenders to see if you can benefit now.
Some experts recommend delaying your home purchase altogether. “I normally don’t say to try to time the market, but … if you can hold off until early next year, that inventory situation should be better,” Todd Teta told us earlier this year. Teta is the chief product officer at California real estate data and analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions.
If you don’t want to wait to buy a home, housing experts recommend planning ahead:
- Know how much house you can afford
- Sticking to a home buying budget
- Save for a large enough down payment
- Avoid rushing into buying