Millennials are in their prime homebuying years, and they’re used to cheap credit. So they might be in for a rude awakening as mortgage rates jump.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan sat just below 4 percent a year ago, after dropping below 3.5 percent in 2016. It just crossed the 5 percent mark, according to Mortgage News Daily. That is the first time in eight years, and it is poised to move higher. Five percent may still be historically cheap, but higher rates, combined with other challenges facing today’s housing market could cause potential buyers to pull back.
“Five percent is definitely an emotional level inasmuch as it scares prospective buyers about how high rates may continue to go,” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of MND.
Home sales have been sliding for much of this year, and total annual sales are expected to come in lower than last year. Affordability is the clear culprit. With rates now more than a full percentage point higher than a year ago, that adds at least $200 more to a monthly mortgage payment for a $300,000 loan. It also knocks some borrowers out of qualification because lenders are strict on how much debt a borrower can carry in relation to his or her income.
“For buyers that are inclined to buy now, they’re doing the same things they’ve been doing: Looking at the appalling lack of available inventory, seeing if any of it meets their needs, and deciding whether or not they can afford the monthly payment. In that sense, 5 percent takes some buyers out of some markets, and it plays a supporting role in the leveling-off process that’s already well underway for home sales,” Graham said.