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Mortgage rates rise, inching closer to 5%

By Anna Bahney, CNN business

Mortgage rates rose again this week, inching closer to 5%. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.72% in the week ending April 7, up from 4.67% the week before, according to Freddie Mac. That’s the highest since December 2018.

Rates have jumped this year at a pace not seen in decades.

“Mortgage rates have increased 1.5% points over the last three months alone, the fastest three-month rise since May of 1994,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The increase in mortgage rates has softened purchase activity such that the monthly payment for those looking to buy a home has risen by at least 20% from a year ago.”

The rate increase follows a surge in the 10-year Treasury, which briefly crossed the highest level in four years, as investors digested comments from Federal Reserve officials that inflation is on an aggressive path, said George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s manager of economic research.

“The bottom line is that mortgage rates are on course to surpass 5%, a level not seen since February 2011, when the typical home in the US was priced at just $166,000 — less than half the price of today’s typical home,” he said.

The sharp jump in mortgage rates since the start of the year may be a turning point for the housing market, said Ratiu.

“We entered 2022 on a strong footing, with rising job numbers and wage growth driving demand for homes,” he said. “The shortage of inventory pushed prices to record highs even before the spring season got underway.”

But at current rates, buyers of a median-priced home are looking at monthly mortgage payments which are almost $500 higher than a year ago, Ratiu said.

The increase in the cost of financing a home is outgunning the yearly rate of inflation, the rise in home prices, and the advance in rents, he said, and the housing market may be reaching a tipping point at which demand will pull back.

A silver lining, he said, is that some homeowners may finally put their homes up for sale.

But for many would-be homebuyers, Ratiu said, “today’s mortgage rates are closing the door on being able to afford to buy a home this spring.”

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