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HomenewsBad news for first-time buyers: Mortgage rates rise to pandemic-era high

Bad news for first-time buyers: Mortgage rates rise to pandemic-era high


Mortgage rates rose to levels last seen in March 2020 as markets continued to price in expectations of an upcoming interest-rate increase from the Federal Reserve.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.56% for the week ending Jan. 20, up 11 basis points from the previous week, Freddie Mac
FMCC,
+1.07%

reported Thursday. A year ago this time, the 30-year loan was averaging 2.77%

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, meanwhile, rose 17 basis points to an average of 2.79%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.6%, up three basis points from the previous week.

To put these numbers in perspective, the last time the rate on the benchmark 30-year loan was this high there had been just over 15,200 total COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, the total number of cases in the country has reached nearly 68.6 million, according to data from The New York Times.

Mortgage rates roughly track the direction of long-term bond yields, including the 10-year Treasury
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.810%
,
which rose over the past week as data underscored the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will rollback its stimulus activities to curb high inflation.

“Economic indicators showed that labor markets remain tight, while consumer and producer prices continued to rise in December,” said Paul Thomas, vice president of capital markets at Zillow
Z,
-0.66%

ZG,
+0.30%
.
“This data supports market expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to move early in 2022 to address inflation, and potentially accelerate asset purchase tapering and balance sheet runoff.”

For home buyers, this means that the monthly mortgage bill will be significantly higher than it was a year ago. According to an analysis from Realtor.com, at today’s rates buyers can expect to pay $238 more per month on their mortgage than they would have if they had bought property at this time in 2021. That adds up to nearly $3,000 more per year, on account of the higher interest rate.

This will hit first-time buyers especially hard, said Realtor.com manager of economic research George Ratiu, and will shrink the budgets of what they can afford to buy — at a time when home prices continue to rise.



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MD Abdullah
Abdullah is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.
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