It is a seller’s market, undeniably. The supply of homes for sale is low, demand is high, and now prices are heating up even more. But sellers today see more reasons to stay put than to profit.
Home prices jumped 7.1 percent annually in May, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That’s the biggest jump in four years. Annual price gains had been shrinking slightly, as mortgage rates rose, but apparently higher rates are not hurting demand. They are, however, exacerbating the already critical supply shortage.
“During the first quarter, we found that about 50 percent of all existing homeowners had a mortgage rate of 3.75 percent or less,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “May’s mortgage rates averaged a seven-year high of 4.6 percent, with an increasing number of homeowners keeping the low-rate loans they currently have, rather than sell and buy another home that would carry a higher interest rate.”
If mortgage rates were to rise further, fewer homeowners would want to move. In fact, if today’s homeowners just considering a move were faced with a mortgage rate 1 percentage point higher than their current one, 24 percent would not move, according to a survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Thirty-six percent said they “may not” move. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now slightly more than 1 percentage point higher than the lows following the recession.