“For the vast majority of military borrowers,. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”Bottom Line
Mortgage rates have been back on the rise recently and that’s getting a lot of attention from the press. If you’ve been following the headlines, you may have even seen rates recently reached their highest level in over two decades (see graph below):
That can feel like a little bit of a gut punch if you’re thinking about making a move. If you’re wondering whether or not you should delay your plans, here’s what you really need to know.
How Higher Mortgage Rates Impact You
There’s no denying mortgage rates are higher right now than they were in recent years. And, when rates are up, that affects overall home affordability. It works like this. The higher the rate, the more expensive it is to borrow money when you buy a home. That’s because, as rates trend up, your monthly mortgage payment for your future home loan also increases.
Urban Institute explains how this is impacting buyers and sellers right now:
“When mortgage rates go up, monthly housing payments on new purchases also increase. For potential buyers, increased monthly payments can reduce the share of available affordable homes . . . Additionally, higher interest rates mean fewer homes on the market, as existing homeowners have an incentive to hold on to their home to keep their low interest rate.”
Basically, some people are deciding to put their plans on hold because of where mortgage rates are right now. But what you want to know is: is that a good strategy?
Where Will Mortgage Rates Go from Here?
If you’re eager for mortgage rates to drop, you’re not alone. A lot of people are waiting for that to happen. But here’s the thing. No one knows when it will. Even the experts can’t say with certainty what’s going to happen next.
The best advice for your move is this: don’t try to control what you can’t control. This includes trying to time the market or guess what the future holds for mortgage rates. As CBS News states:
“If you’re in the market for a new home, experts typically recommend focusing your search on the right home purchase — not the interest rate environment.”
Instead, work on building a team of skilled professionals, including a trusted lender and real estate agent, who can explain what’s happening in the market and what it means for you. If you need to move because you’re changing jobs, want to be closer to family, or are in the middle of another big life change, the right team can help you achieve your goal, even now.
The best advice for your move is: don’t try to control what you can’t control – especially mortgage rates. Even the experts can’t say for certain where they’ll go from here. Instead, focus on building a team of trusted professionals who can keep you informed. When you’re ready to get the process started, let’s connect.
If you’re looking to buy a home this fall, there are a few things you need to know. Affordability is tight with today’s mortgage rates and rising home prices. At the same time, there’s a limited number of homes on the market right now and that’s creating some competition among buyers. But, if you’re strategic, there are ways to navigate these waters. The first thing you’ll want to do is get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way you’ll know your numbers and can set yourself up for success from the start of your home search.
What Pre-Approval Does for You
To understand why it’s such an important step, you need to know what pre-approval is. As part of the homebuying process, a lender looks at your finances to determine what they’d be willing to loan you. From there, your lender will give you a pre-approval letter to help you know how much money you can borrow. Freddie Mac explains it like this:
“A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”
Basically, pre-approval gives you critical information about the homebuying process that’ll help you understand how much you may be able to borrow. Why does this help you, especially today? With higher mortgage rates and home prices impacting affordability for many buyers right now, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important so you can truly wrap your head around your options.
Pre-Approval Helps Show Sellers You’re a Serious Buyer
Let’s face it, there are more buyers looking to buy than there are homes available for sale and that imbalance is creating some competition among homebuyers. That means you could see yourself in a multiple-offer scenario when you make an offer on a home. But getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you stand out from other hopeful buyers.
As an article from Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says:
“If you plan to use a mortgage for your home purchase, preapproval should be among the first steps in your search process. Not only can getting preapproved help you zero in on the right price range, but it can give you a leg up on other buyers, too.”
Pre-approval shows the seller you’re a serious buyer that’s already undergone a credit and financial check, making it more likely that the sale will move forward without unexpected delays or financial issues.
Getting pre-approved is an important first step when you’re buying a home. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of getting the home you want. Connect with a trusted lender so you have the tools you need to purchase a home in today’s market.
If you’re hoping to buy a home this year, you’re probably paying close attention to mortgage rates. Since mortgage rates impact what you can afford when you take out a home loan – and affordability is a challenge today – it’s a good time to look at the big picture of where mortgage rates have been historically compared to where they are now. Beyond that, it’s important to understand their relationship with inflation for insights into where mortgage rates might go in the near future.
Giving Context to the Sticker Shock
Freddie Mac has been tracking the 30-year fixed mortgage rate since April of 1971. Every week, they release the results of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey, which averages mortgage application data from lenders across the country (see graph below):
Looking at the right side of the graph, mortgage rates have increased significantly since the start of last year. But even with that rise, today’s rates are still below the 52-year average. While that historical perspective is good context, buyers have gotten used to mortgage rates between 3% and 5%, which is where they’ve been over the past 15 years.
That’s important because it explains why the recent jump in rates might have you feeling sticker shock even though they’re close to their long-term average. While many buyers have adjusted to the elevated rates over the past year, a slightly lower rate would be a welcome sight. To determine if that’s a realistic possibility, it’s important to look at inflation.
Where Could Mortgage Rates Go in the Future?
The Federal Reserve has been working hard to lower inflation since early 2022. That’s significant because, historically, there’s been a connection between inflation and mortgage rates (see graph below):
This graph shows a pretty reliable relationship between inflation and mortgage rates. Looking at the left side of the graph, each time inflation moves significantly (shown in blue), mortgage rates follow suit shortly after (shown in green).
The circled portion of the graph points out the most recent spike in inflation, with mortgage rates following closely behind. As inflation has moderated a bit this year, mortgage rates haven’t yet made a similar move.
That means, if history is any guide, the market is waiting for mortgage rates to follow inflation and head back down. It’s impossible to accurately predict where mortgage rates will go for sure, but moderating inflation means mortgage rates going down in the near future would fit a well-established trend.
To understand where mortgage rates may be going, it’s helpful to look at where they’ve been in the past. There’s a clear connection between inflation and mortgage rates, and if that historical relationship holds true, the recent decline in inflation may mean good news for the future of mortgage rates and your homeownership goals.
If you remember the housing crash back in 2008, you may recall just how popular adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were back then. And after years of being virtually nonexistent, more people are once again using ARMs when buying a home. Let’s break down why that’s happening and why this isn’t cause for concern.
Why ARMs Have Gained Popularity More Recently
This graph uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to show how the percentage of adjustable-rate mortgages has increased over the past few years:
As the graph conveys, after hovering around 3% of all mortgages in 2021, many more homeowners turned to adjustable-rate mortgages again last year. There’s a simple explanation for that increase. Last year is when mortgage rates climbed dramatically. With higher borrowing costs, some homeowners decided to take out this type of loan because traditional borrowing costs were high, and an ARM gave them a lower rate.
Why Today’s ARMs Aren’t Like the Ones in 2008
To put things into perspective, let’s remember these aren’t like the ARMs that became popular leading up to 2008. Part of what caused the housing crash was loose lending standards. Back then, when a buyer got an ARM, banks and lenders didn’t require proof of their employment, assets, income, etc. Basically, people were getting loans that they shouldn’t have been awarded. This set many homeowners up for trouble because they couldn’t pay back the loans that they never had to qualify for in the first place.This time around, lending standards are different. Banks and lenders learned from the crash, and now they verify income, assets, employment, and more. This means today’s buyers actually have to qualify for their loans and show they’ll be able to repay them.Archana Pradhan, Economist at CoreLogic, explains the difference between then and now:
“Around 60% of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARM) that were originated in 2007 were low- or no-documentation loans . . . Similarly, in 2005, 29% of ARM borrowers had credit scores below 640 . . . Currently, almost all conventional loans, including both ARMs and Fixed-Rate Mortgages, require full documentation, are amortized, and are made to borrowers with credit scores above 640.”
In simple terms, Laurie Goodman at Urban Institute helps drive this point home by saying:
“Today’s Adjustable-Rate Mortgages are no riskier than other mortgage products and their lower monthly payments could increase access to homeownership for more potential buyers.”
If you’re worried today’s adjustable-rate mortgages are like the ones from the housing crash, rest assured, things are different this time. And, if you’re a first-time homebuyer and you’d like to learn more about lending options that could help you overcome today’s affordability challenges, reach out to a trusted lender.
When you read about the housing market in the news, you might see something about a recent decision made by the Federal Reserve (the Fed). But how does this decision affect you and your plans to buy a home? Here’s what you need to know.The Fed is trying hard to reduce inflation. And even though there’s been 12 straight months where inflation has cooled (see graph below), the most recent data shows it’s still higher than the Fed’s target of 2%:
While you may have been hoping the Fed would stop their hikes since they’re making progress on their goal of bringing down inflation, they don’t want to stop too soon, and risk inflation climbing back up as a result. Because of this, the Fed decided to increase the Federal Funds Rate again last week. As Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Fed,says:
“We remain committed to bringing inflation back to our 2 percent goal and to keeping longer-term inflation expectations well anchored.”
Greg McBride, Senior VP, and Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains how high inflation and a strong economy play into the Fed’s recent decision:
“Inflation remains stubbornly high. The economy has been remarkably resilient, the labor market is still robust, but that may be contributing to the stubbornly high inflation. So, Fed has to pump the brakes a bit more.”
Even though a Federal Fund Rate hike by the Fed doesn’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, it does have an impact. As a recent article from Fortunesays:
“The federal funds rate is an interest rate that banks charge other banks when they lend one another money . . . When inflation is running high, the Fed will increase rates to increase the cost of borrowing and slow down the economy. When it’s too low, they’ll lower rates to stimulate the economy and get things moving again.”
How All of This Affects You
In the simplest sense, when inflation is high, mortgage rates are also high. But, if the Fed succeeds in bringing down inflation, it could ultimately lead to lower mortgage rates, making it more affordable for you to buy a home.This graph helps illustrate that point by showing that when inflation decreases, mortgage rates typically go down, too (see graph below):
As the data above shows, inflation (shown inthe blue trend line) is slowly coming down and, based on historical trends, mortgage rates (shown inthe green trend line) are likely to follow. McBride says this about the future of mortgage rates:
“With the backdrop of easing inflation pressures, we should see more consistent declines in mortgage rates as the year progresses, particularly if the economy and labor market slow noticeably.”
What happens to mortgage rates depends on inflation. If inflation cools down, mortgage rates should go down too. Let’s talk so you can get expert advice on housing market changes and what they mean for you.
If you’re following mortgage rates because you know they impact your borrowing costs, you may be wondering what the future holds for them. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer that question because mortgage rates are notoriously hard to forecast. But, there’s one thing that’s historically a good indicator of what’ll happen with rates, and that’s the relationship between the 30-Year Mortgage Rate and the 10-Year Treasury Yield. Here’s a graph showing those two metrics since Freddie Mac started keeping mortgage rate records in 1972:
As the graph shows, historically, the average spread between the two over the last 50 years was 1.72 percentage points (also commonly referred to as 172 basis points). If you look at the trend line you can see when the Treasury Yield trends up, mortgage rates will usually respond. And, when the Yield drops, mortgage rates tend to follow. While they typically move in sync like this, the gap between the two has remained about 1.72 percentage points for quite some time. But, what’s crucial to notice is that spread is widening far beyond the norm lately (see graph below):
If you’re asking yourself: what’s pushing the spread beyond its typical average? It’s primarily because of uncertainty in the financial markets. Factors such as inflation, other economic drivers, and the policy and decisions from the Federal Reserve (The Fed) are all influencing mortgage rates and a widening spread.
Why Does This Matter for You?
This may feel overly technical and granular, but here’s why homebuyers like you should understand the spread. It means, based on the normal historical gap between the two, there’s room for mortgage rates to improve today.And, experts think that’s what lies ahead as long as inflation continues to cool. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:
“It’s reasonable to assume that the spread and, therefore, mortgage rates will retreat in the second half of the year if the Fed takes its foot off the monetary tightening pedal . . . However, it’s unlikely that the spread will return to its historical average of 170 basis points, as some risks are here to stay.”
Similarly, an article from Forbessays:
“Though housing market watchers expect mortgage rates to remain elevated amid ongoing economic uncertainty and the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking war on inflation, they believe rates peaked last fall and will decline—to some degree—later this year, barring any unforeseen surprises.”
If you’re either a first-time home buyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving into a home that better fits your current needs, keep on top of what’s happening with mortgage rates and what experts think will happen in the coming months.
You might be worried we’re heading for a housing crash, but there are many reasons why this housing market isn’t like the one we saw in 2008. One of which is how lending standards are different today. Here’s a look at the data to help prove it.
Every month, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) releases the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:
“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is . . . a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”
Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. Take a look at the graph below of the MCAI since they started keeping track of this data in 2004. It shows how lending standards have changed over time. It works like this:
- When lending standards are less strict, it’s easier to get a mortgage, and the index (the green line in the graph) is higher.
- When lending standards are stricter, it’s harder to get a mortgage, and the line representing the index is lower.
In 2004, the index was around 400. But, by 2006, it had gone up to over 850. Today, the story is quite different. Since the crash, the index went down because lending standards got tighter, so today it’s harder to get a mortgage.
Loose Lending Standards Contributed to the Housing Bubble
One of the main factors that contributed to the housing bubble was that lending standards were a lot less strict back then. Realtor.com explains it like this:
“In the early 2000s, it wasn’t exactly hard to snag a home mortgage. . . . plenty of mortgages were doled out to people who lied about their incomes and employment, and couldn’t actually afford homeownership.”
The tall peak in the graph above indicates that leading up to the housing crisis, it was much easier to get credit, and the requirements for getting a loan were far from strict. Back then, credit was widelyavailable, and the threshold for qualifying for a loan was low.
Lenders were approving loans without always going through a verification process to confirm if the borrower would likely be able to repay the loan. That means creditors were lending to more borrowers who had a higher risk of defaulting on their loans.
Today’s Loans Are Much Tougher To Get than Before
As mentioned, lending standards have changed a lot since then. Bankrate describes the difference:
“Today, lenders impose tough standards on borrowers – and those who are getting a mortgage overwhelmingly have excellent credit.”
If you look back at the graph, you’ll notice after the peak around the time of the housing crash, the line representing the index went down dramatically and has stayed low since. In fact, the line is far below where standards were even in 2004 – and it’s getting lower. Joel Kan, VP and Deputy Chief Economist at MBA, provides the most recent update from May:
“Mortgage credit availability decreased for the third consecutive month . . . With the decline in availability, the MCAI is now at its lowest level since January 2013.”
The decreasing index suggests standards are getting much tougher – which makes it clear we’re far away from the extreme lending practices that contributed to the crash.
Leading up to the housing crash, lending standards were much more relaxed with little evaluation done to measure a borrower’s potential to repay their loan. Today, standards are tighter, and the risk is reduced for both lenders and borrowers. This goes to show, these are two very different housing markets, and this market isn’t like the last time.
Your credit score plays a major role in many financial decisions you make throughout your life, especially when it comes to purchasing a home. It determines whether you are eligible for loans and the interest rates you will receive. Therefore, understanding how your credit score is determined and how you can raise it can drastically impact your financial wellbeing.
Credit scores are typically determined by the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – using a formula called the FICO score. This formula considers five key factors, which are explained in more detail below.
- Payment history
Payment history is the most significant factor affecting your credit score, accounting for approximately 35% of the total. This factor takes into account whether or not you have made payments on time and if you have any missed payments or a history of defaults.
- Amount of debt owed
The amount of debt you owe to different lenders accounts for approximately 30% of your credit score. This includes outstanding balances on credit cards, loans, and mortgages. It also looks at the ratio of your outstanding debt to your available credit.
- Length of credit history
Your credit history’s length contributes to approximately 15% of your overall score. This factor considers how long you have had your credit accounts open – the longer, the better.
- Types of credit
Your credit score considers the types of credit you have used, accounting for approximately 10% of your overall score. This includes credit cards, loans, and mortgages.
- New credit
Finally, new credit accounts for approximately 10% of your total score. It considers how many new credit accounts you have opened recently and how many credit inquiries you’ve made in a short amount of time.
Now that you understand how your credit score is determined, it’s time to discuss some ways to raise your score.
- Pay bills on time
As mentioned earlier, payment history has the greatest impact on your credit score. Therefore, paying your bills on time should be a top priority. If you struggle with remembering your due dates, consider setting up automatic payments or reminders on your phone.
- Keep credit card balances low
Your debt-to-credit ratio is essential, so it’s crucial to keep your credit card balances low. If you can, try to pay off your credit card balance in full each month.
- Check your credit report regularly
Mistakes on your credit report can negatively affect your score, so be sure to check it regularly for errors. If you do spot an error, dispute it as soon as possible.
- Apply for new credit accounts sparingly
Applying for new credit accounts frequently can negatively impact your score. Instead, try to avoid opening new accounts and focus on paying off your current balances.
- Keep old accounts open
As mentioned earlier, the length of your credit history accounts for approximately 15% of your score. Therefore, it’s best to keep your old accounts open even if you don’t use them anymore.
- Pay off outstanding debt
It’s essential to pay off your outstanding debts to improve your credit score. Start with the accounts with the highest interest rates and work your way down.
- Aim for a higher credit limit
If possible, try to increase your credit limit. This can help improve your debt-to-credit ratio, which is a crucial factor in determining your credit score.
In conclusion, your credit score plays a significant role in many financial decisions throughout your life. Keeping track of your credit report and taking steps to raise your score can make a tremendous difference in your financial wellbeing. By paying bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, checking your credit report regularly, applying for new credit accounts sparingly, keeping old accounts open, paying off outstanding debt, and aiming for a higher credit limit, you can begin to improve your credit score over time.
If you’re thinking about buying a home, you should know your credit score’s a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to qualifying for a home loan. Lenders review your credit to assess your ability to make payments on time, to pay back debts, and more. It’s also a factor that helps determine your mortgage rate. An article from Bankrate explains:
“Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders consider when you apply for a mortgage. Not just to qualify for the loan itself, but for the conditions: Typically, the higher your score, the lower the interest rates and better terms you’ll qualify for.”
This means your credit score may feel even more important to your homebuying plans right now since mortgage rates are a key factor in affordability, especially today. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median credit score in the U.S. for those taking out a mortgage is 765. But, that doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect. An article from Business Insider explains generally how your FICO score range can make an impact:
“. . . you don’t need a perfect credit score to buy a house. . . . Aiming to get your credit score in the ‘Good’ range (670 to 739) would be a great start towards qualifying for a mortgage. But if you’re wanting to qualify for the lowest rates, try to get your score within the ‘Very Good’ range (740 to 799).”
Working with a trusted lender’s the best way to get more information on how your credit score could factor into your home loan and the mortgage rate you’re able to get. As FICO says:
“While many lenders use credit scores like FICO Scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders may use to determine your actual interest rates.”
If you’re looking for ways to improve your score, Experian highlights some things you may want to focus on:
- Your Payment History: Late payments can have a negative impact by dropping your score. Focus on making payments on time and paying any existing late charges quickly.
- Your Debt Amount (relative to your credit limits): When it comes to your available credit amount, the less you’re using, the better. Focus on keeping this number as low as possible.
- Credit Applications: If you’re looking to buy, don’t apply for other credit. When you apply for new credit, it could result in a hard inquiry on your credit that drops your score.
When you’re ready to start the homebuying process, a lender will be able to assess which range your score falls in and tell you more about the specifics for each loan type.
With affordability challenges today, prioritizing ways you can have a positive impact on your credit score could help you get a better mortgage rate. If you want to learn more, let’s connect.