Cooler monthly inflation report pushes mortgage rates even lower

Real Estate

An aerial view of existing homes near new homes under construction (UPPER R) in the Chatsworth neighborhood on September 08, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. 
Mario Tama | Getty Images

The average rate on the 30-year mortgage fell 18 basis points to 7.40% on Tuesday, according to Mortgage News Daily, as Wall Street lowered its expectations for future Federal Reserve hikes.

The drop was due to a sharp bond market rally, after the government’s monthly inflation report came in lower than analysts had predicted. As bond yields dropped, so too did mortgage rates, which follow loosely the yield on the 10-year Treasury.

Mortgage rates had already been dropping from their recent highs. A one-two punch of the Fed holding rates steady at its last meeting and a weaker-than-expected monthly employment report pointed to the end of interest rate hikes.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped over 8% on Oct. 19, the highest level in more than two decades. It then dropped more than 25 basis points in the first week of November to 7.38%, coming back slightly last week and starting this week at 7.58%.

“Even though today’s inflation data was extremely important in shaping the rate narrative, the bond market’s reaction is nonetheless impressive,” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. “Mortgage lenders have done a great job of keeping pace with market movement considering mortgage rates are often accused of taking the elevator up and the stairs down.”

While the recent mortgage rate increases were all within 1 percentage point, the comparison to two years ago, when rates were near record lows around 3%, has made today’s homebuyers exceptionally sensitive to rates. Some can no longer either afford a home or qualify for a mortgage. Home sales have been falling for several months, with some calling the market frozen even before the start of winter.

“The interest rate rises should be over, and the Fed will have to consider cutting interest rates seriously. In the meantime, the bond market is reacting as if the Fed will be cutting interest rates next year. Mortgage rates look to head towards 7% in a few months and into the 6% range by the spring of 2024,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

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