By Anna Bahney, CNN Business
Homeowners who missed out on ultra-low interest rates earlier this year may have another chance.
The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.88%, according to Freddie Mac, the lowest level since mid-February and the third consecutive weekly drop. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.22%.
The downward slide could pull some weary buyers, who have considered bailing out of buying, back into the market with low rates.
“Since their peak at 3.18% in April, mortgage rates have declined by thirty basis points,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “While this decline is not large, it provides modest relief to borrowers who are purchasing in a market with strong home appreciation and scant inventory.”
These favorable rates will help to offset rising home prices, said George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s senior economist.
“For buyers seeking predictable monthly payments, the continuation of low rates will enable them to keep searching for a desirable home with the peace of mind that their housing costs will remain steady for years to come with a low fixed-rate mortgage,” he said.
The number of homes on the market have ticked up over the past few weeks, with listings up 5% last week as more sellers took advantage of record-high prices, according to Realtor.com.
“The influx of fresh listings is helping moderate record-breaking price growth, presenting more opportunities for buyers. However, affordability will remain a challenge for many first-time buyers, as the monthly payment for the typical home is still $116 higher this week than it was a year ago.”
It could be a chance for people who didn’t refinance in the past year to do that.
In June, the number of refinances dropped from earlier in the year, in spite of rates being as low as March’s rates. Refinances in which the homeowner improved their rate or term were down 30% in June from March, and down 60% from January, according to Black Knight, a mortgage data company. But cash-out refinances remain strong, making up 42% of all refinances.
Now is a good time to revisit refinancing your mortgage said Melissa Cohn, executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage.
She said the question isn’t why so many people “missed out,” but rather: “Why can’t millions of people qualify for these rates?”
For most current homeowners, perhaps the best thing to do is to sit down and do the math: Consider how much it will cost you to refinance and how long you will remain in your home, Cohn said.
It may also be smart to make some moves related to a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, with rates low.
“Now is a great time to consolidate a first mortgage and a HELOC,” she said. “HELOC rates will be the first to go up when the fed raises rates,” she said.
Cohn also said that the situation with the pandemic, although improved, is still causing waves in the market. Banks have still not fully gone back to their pre-pandemic guidelines, she said, and with more employers requiring people to go back to the office, that is causing hesitancy for both buyers and sellers.