Mortgage rates fell for the fourth week in a row

Washington, DC (CNN) Homebuyers benefited from another week of falling mortgage rates, with the average rate falling for the fourth consecutive week, according to data from Freddie Mac released Thursday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.28% in the week ended April 6, up from 6.32% the previous week. A year ago, the 30-year fixed rate was 4.72%.

“Mortgage rates continue to decline during the traditional spring home buying season,” said Sam Cotter, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Unfortunately, those in the market to buy face a number of challenges, especially for first-time homebuyers, not just low inventory homes for sale.”

The average mortgage rate is based on the mortgage applications Freddie Mac receives from thousands of lenders across the country. The survey only includes borrowers with excellent credit who put 20% down.

After reaching a 2022 high of 7.08% in November, rates began to decline in 2023. However, they rose again in February as strong economic data suggested the Federal Reserve was not done in its battle to cool the US economy and would continue to raise its key lending rate.

In an effort to combat stubbornly high inflation and take into account risks to financial stability posed by recent turmoil in the banking sector, the central bank raised interest rates by a quarter point in its most recent policy move.

The fallout from the bank collapse could lead to tighter credit requirements and a “less hospitable borrowing environment,” Hannah Jones, economic research analyst at Realtor.com, said in a report Thursday. “More expensive, tighter lending helps the economy’s long-term health, but the downside is that borrowing for large purchases, including home purchases, can be more challenging in the short term.”

“In response to the recent banking instability, investors sought more ground in the bond market, which pushed bond yields lower,” he said. “However, as uncertainty in the financial sector eases, investors have moved away from bonds and pushed bond yields back up. Mortgage rates have moved in line with the 10-year Treasury yield, which rose this week, but the spread between the two has narrowed. As mortgage rates fall, the market continues to move toward economic uncertainty.”

“Potential buyers continue to face higher mortgage rates and home prices that are less affordable than they were a year ago,” Jones said. “However, home prices continue to show signs of softening, a welcome development for buyers. This week’s price hike also creates an opportunity for potential buyers to dive in while prices remain slightly lower. With every gain in affordability, it’s clear that housing demand remains subdued, whether it’s softening prices or lower mortgage rates.” “

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