Mortgage Rates Dropped Again Last Week — Hitting 3.15%. Here’s Why Experts Expect Them to Go Back Up Soon

weekly rate story #16
Mortgage rates took another significant slide last week to 3.15%. But experts don’t expect this downward trend to continue
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Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipped by 0.05% to 3.15%. That’s the second week in a row that rates have dropped following three weeks of rate increases. 

Mortgage rates have not been below 3% since earlier in the year but are still well below pre-pandemic levels. People looking to purchase a new home or refinance can benefit from the current rate environment. 

Here is a closer look at what the latest rate movement means for homebuyers, homeowners, and what we might see in the future.  

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 

In November 2020, the mid-pandemic average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.12% — just 0.03 percentage points lower than last week’s average. In November 2019, the pre-pandemic average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was much higher, at 3.96%. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 8.8 million people had lost their jobs in 2020, placing them at a higher risk of defaulting on their housing payments. The Federal Reserve responded by implementing policies intended to make housing more affordable, which drove mortgage rates downward and expanded refinance opportunities to homeowners.

Mortgage Rates: Current Outlook 

Since the beginning of this year, rates have been on an upward trend. This trajectory is consistent with many housing expert predictions. However, last week’s average of 3.15% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is still incredibly low from a historical perspective. 

Housing prices are trending upwards as well, giving existing homeowners more options for using their growing home equity. The cash-out refinance has seen particular interest during this low-rate environment, with this type of refinance increasing by 37% in 2021, according to data analytics firm Black Knight. A cash-out refinance coupled with a low refinance rate can help fund home improvements or consolidate debt

While there are signs the housing market is starting to cool down, the rise of home prices can eat away at the potential savings of a low mortgage rate. This trend encourages prospective homeowners to save for larger down payments to keep home loans in an affordable range or to wait to buy altogether. 

Mortgage Rates: Looking Forward 

Experts forecast a continued upward trend in rates into 2022, citing current inflation as a major factor. Inflation was the highest it’s been in 31 years in October. U.S. Policymakers are debating what measures can and should be taken to address it and the extent to which it may or may not be a temporary impact of the pandemic.  

This surge of inflation could signal an increase in rates. “If inflation remains stubbornly high for a longer period … that will force up mortgage rates,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, told us earlier this year.

For homeowners holding off on a rate and term refinance or a cash-out refinance, now may be a good time to take action. With rates likely to keep increasing in the long-term, consecutive drops in the average rate the last two weeks is a notable departure from the trend.

If you don’t want to put off buying a home, make sure to stick to a homebuying budget. Use a mortgage calculator to determine your monthly costs. From there you can see how much total house you can afford