Rates for home loans roared higher, taking the benchmark mortgage product to a new high and setting up a fresh test for an already strained housing market.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.94% in the Nov.8 week, a gain of 11 basis points, mortgage finance provider Freddie Mac said Thursday. That was the highest for the popular loan product since February, 2011. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.33%, and the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.14%, both up 10 basis points during the week.
Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.
Fixed-rate mortgages move in line with the U.S. 10-year Treasury
, note, although with a slight delay.
Bond yields have churned higher as investors increasingly expect the federal government to issue more debt to fund the growing deficit. Yields rise as prices decline, and vice versa.
In the housing market, meanwhile, the slow and steady upward march of mortgage rates is taking a toll. With options scarce and affordability stretched, higher borrowing costs are thwarting buyers like Andy and Emerline Hunte.
The Huntes and their two boys have been searching for a house for two years, while sticking it out in a cramped basement apartment in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Saving for a down payment has been “arduous,” Andy told MarketWatch. “We may end up dipping into our 401(k) to put 20% down in order to not carry mortgage insurance.”
Andy had held out hope of buying a two-family house, in order to rent the extra portion to “assist with mortgage payments and help build up equity faster,” he said.
But rising rates – and prices – have put that dream aside for now, and the Huntes are now targeting a single-family home with enough bedrooms and “a large enough backyard for our little one to play.” The “little one” also needs a good school district, but his parents haven’t been able to find a home that they can afford that checks all those boxes.
The family has been house-hunting for so long that their first pre-approval had what bond traders sometimes call a “3-handle.” That rate, 3.875%, was renewed a year later at 4.875%, and now Andy sees a 5% mortgage looming ahead.
“The increase has made it more difficult to afford the mortgage we could have afforded two years ago,” Hunte said. “Makes me really wish I had purchased when I first started looking.”
Earlier coverage: Mortgage rates slide as echoes of 2006 haunt the housing market