The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has soared nearly 40 basis points to 2.25%. The yield hasn’t been this high since early January.
And as the 10-year note goes, so, too, go mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed-rate loan has kept pace with the 10-year note. A couple weeks ago, 3.625% was a frequent rate quote on a prime conventional 30-year loan. Today, 4% is the likely quote you’ll receive on the same loan.
As you’d expect, the spike in rates has set lending activity on its heels. Demand curves are, after all, downward sloping: The more something costs, the less of it that’s demanded; the less something costs, the more of it that’s demanded. Last week, costs rose for mortgages. Refinance applications were down 11%, while purchase applications were down 6%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest weekly survey.
The good news is that mortgage rates are still low by historical standards. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.9% over the past 10 years. If we go back to the 1990s, the average rate was 8.1%. The problem is that when people focus on history, recent history anchors expectations. For the past four years, the average rate on a 30-year loan has been below 4%. This year, the average has been significantly lower than 4%, with a 3.6% average rate. (All averages are based on Freddie Mac data.)
Of course, everyone wonders what higher interest rates mean to the future of housing and mortgage lending.
To be sure, ultra-low lending rates have helped housing maintain an upward trajectory. The math is simple enough: the lower the financing rate, the more house you can buy. On the investment end, the lower the financing rate, the higher the present value. Everyone rightly wonders if rising rates will upset the current housing-friendly dynamic.
That said, regulatory reform could provide a meaningful offset.
Risk aversion has run high since the 2008 financial crisis. But this risk aversion associated with credit-granting has been further elevated by regulatory risk. Lenders have faced greater legal hazards related to mortgage lending. The biggest lenders have paid billions of dollars in fines related to defaulted mortgages.
Yes, the Trump election has brought higher interest rates, but it could also bring regulatory reform. A more-lender-friendly regulatory environment could be in the waiting. During his campaign, Trump trumpeted the need to rollback the more onerous aspects of lender regulation, beginning with Dodd-Frank. How higher lending rates and more liberal lending standards would jibe remains to be seen.
Current financial-market expectations point to an interesting start to 2017, to say the least.
Matt has been a licensed Real Estate Broker since 2003 and with American AllStar Realty since 2005. Matt lives and loves real estate, especially assisting Buyers and Sellers in residential transactions.
I have always held a vision of personal real estate service that would far exceed customer expectations. Myself and my team of agents are able to negotiate competently on a clients' behalf and consistently handle even the most complex property transactions with ease. This teamwork, attention to detail and serving the customer with an above-and-beyond philosophy, has helped American AllStar Realty succeed in spite of a sometimes-adverse economy. A solid reputation has been built through hard work, integrity and a strong code of ethics.
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"I cannot think of anything but very positive things to say about the personal assistance Matt provides to customers. He is never pushy, always professional and polite, sometimes even funny. (ha ha) We had a stressful situation and we were not sure if it would be resolved. Matt knew just how to walk the line and gave us the best advise and comfort. He held the transaction together and was honestly concerned for both parties which we appreciated. I would highly recommend him to anyone interested in selling or purchasing a home. You will not be disappointed."