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Mortgage Rates Fall Below 7% To Kick Off March

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Good news for homebuyers! Mortgage rates finally dipped below 7% this week, offering a glimmer of hope after months of punitive hikes. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage now sits at a more manageable 6.9%, according to Freddie Mac and Mortgage News Daily. This shift comes as a response to waning inflation data, marking the first contraction in over a month.

Mortgage Rates: A Downward Trend

The average rate for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 6.92% on Thursday. Freddie Mac’s weekly average for a 30-year loan also saw a decrease, settling at 6.88%. This decline aligns with broader indicators, such as the core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE), which showed a 2.8% year-over-year gain in January, the slowest growth since 2021.

Fed’s Stance and Its Impact

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hinted at potential rate cuts in 2024 during his semi-annual monetary policy testimony to Congress. However, the ambiguity around the timing and extent of these cuts leaves homeowners in a state of uncertainty. Realtor.com’s economist, Jiayi Xu, highlighted the challenge of pinpointing the optimal timing for rate cuts, citing the risk of a dangerous inflation rebound if cuts are made ‘too soon or too much.’

Homebuyers Respond to Lower Rates

The dip in mortgage rates has sparked a reaction from homebuyers. Mortgage applications increased by nearly 10% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Notably, the volume of home purchase applications rose by 11%, while refinance activity climbed by 8%.

A Breath of Fresh Air in the Housing Market

In a welcome development, the number of home listings increased year over year for the fourth consecutive month in February. Active home listings surged by 14.8% annually, easing the supply challenge that has been plaguing the national housing market. The share of affordable homes on the market also saw a significant increase, growing almost 21% compared to last year.

The Road Ahead: Uncertainty Persists

As we look forward, rate volatility is expected to continue as the Fed and investors await more conclusive evidence of a return to low, stable, and predictable inflation. Yet, the recent dip in mortgage rates and the increase in home listings offer a glimmer of hope for homebuyers navigating this uncertain landscape.

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