Mortgage rates ease slightly as spring homebuying season nears: Freddie Mac

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Mortgage rates eased slightly this week, enough to reheat the homebuying momentum as the market heads into a traditionally busy season of the year, according to Freddie Mac. 

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.88% for the week ending March 7, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey. That’s a drop from the previous week when it averaged 6.94%. A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.73%. 

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 6.22%, down from 6.26% last week and up from 5.95% last year.

The slight drop in borrowing costs led to a nearly 10% jump in mortgage applications, indicating that buyer interest is strong as the market heads into the spring homebuying season, according to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Applications survey.

 “Evidence that purchase demand remains sensitive to interest rate changes was on display this week, as applications rose for the first time in six weeks in response to lower rates,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said. “Mortgage rates continue to be one of the biggest hurdles for potential homebuyers looking to enter the market. It’s important to remember that rates can vary widely between mortgage lenders, so shopping around is essential.”

If you are looking to take advantage of the current mortgage rates by refinancing your mortgage loan or are ready to shop for the best rate on a new mortgage, consider visiting an online marketplace like Credible to compare rates and get preapproved with multiple lenders at once.

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Market waits for rates to drop 

While the Federal Reserve has said that the plan to reverse interest rate hikes is still in the works, the timeline for when those cuts will begin has been unclear. A reversal in interest rates is crucial in creating more affordability for buyers also dealing with record home price gains. 

However, housing supply is improving, according to a recent Redfin report. New listings rose 13% from a year earlier nationwide during the four weeks ending March 3, the most significant increase in nearly three years. And home prices have also lost some momentum. Roughly 5.5% of home sellers dropped their asking price, the highest share of any February since at least 2015, while the share of affordable homes on the market has increased, according to Realtor.com.

“Mortgage rates remain stubbornly high, and since there is no indication that the Fed will set interest rates meaningfully lower in the short term, it is unlikely that mortgage rates will fall much this year,” Voxtur Analytics Senior Vice President David Sober said in a statement. “If a potential homebuyer is waiting for a lower rate, with house prices still rising overall, they probably won’t get the deal they want anytime soon.”

If you’re looking to become a homeowner, you could still find the best mortgage rates by shopping around. Visit Credible to compare your options without affecting your credit score.

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Buyers should shop for the best rate

Despite the continued increase in rates, homebuyers could save on borrowing costs by shopping for the best rate with the right lender.

When mortgage rates are high, borrowers can save more by shopping around. Mortgage rate variability more than doubled in 2022 when rates exceeded 7%, according to Freddie Mac research. Borrowers who shopped for five different rate quotes could have saved more than $6,000 over the life of the loan, assuming the loan remains active for at least five years.

“The increase in rate dispersion means that consumers with similar borrower profiles are being offered a wide range of mortgage rates,” Genaro Villa, a macro and housing economics professional for Freddie Mac, said in the research brief. “In the context of today’s rate environment, although mortgage rates are averaging around 6%, many consumers that fit the same borrower profile could have received a better deal on one day and locked in a 5.5% rate, and on another day locked in a rate closer to 6.5%.”

If you are ready to shop for a mortgage loan or are looking to refinance an existing one, you can use the Credible marketplace to compare rates and lenders and get a mortgage preapproval letter in minutes.

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Have a finance-related question, but don’t know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.

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