Mortgage rates have been rising quickly over the past month. A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.18%. Last week, it averaged 4.67%, according to Freddie Mac.
Mortgage rates surged more than 90 basis points in March alone. And 5% mortgage rates may be here sooner than many housing analysts had originally predicted.
Several leading housing economists recently told MarketWatch that 30-year fixed rates may hit 5% within the next month, while others believe that landmark will come later this year.
“Even if rates slow their recent pace of increase, they’re likely to hit 5% by mid-year unless something big changes in the outlook,” Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist, told MarketWatch.
Jeff Ostrowski, an analyst at Bankrate, told MarketWatch he believes 5% rates will arrive even sooner—sometime this spring.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, says he believes the higher mortgage rates will cool the market somewhat in the coming months. “At a 5% rate, home sales this year may even fall by 10%,” he says.
But Hale is optimistic that buyer demand will remain strong. “We have a large generation of younger households, more than 45 million of whom are in prime household formation and home buying years of 26 to 35,” she told MarketWatch. “And while the monthly costs of buying are higher, the monthly costs of renting are also up, more than 17% in the last year. … Rising rents and higher costs of home buying have younger households hoping to move, stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
And even as mortgage rates climb, Yun does not expect home prices to turn negative. “Home prices are on firmer ground, even if mortgage rates rise to 6%, since the rents are rising strongly,” he told MarketWatch.