Given the Federal Reserve’s current policy of holding the Fed funds rate at near 0% for the foreseeable future, you might assume mortgage rates will remain at the historically low levels we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have seen this before and mortgage rates did move.
The last time the Fed instituted a Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) was following the Global Financial Crisis lasting a span of seven years from December 2008 to December 2015. In December 2008, the average note rate for 30-year mortgages was 5.14%; when ZIRP ended in December 2015, the par note rate was 3.31%. However, despite a Federal Open Markets Committee target on short-term rates of 0.00% - 0.25%, mortgage rates experienced several violent swings. Rates shot up more than 100 basis points over a short 3-month period, and during another span lasting only 9 weeks, pricing for the lowest-coupon mortgage-backed security (MBS) declined by 800 basis points from 101 to a 93 handle. Note that this activity occurred more than two years before the Fed began tapering off its purchasing of Treasuries and MBS.
Currently, the Fed has indicated it will not raise the Fed funds rate until at least 2023. However, this does not mean mortgage rates will remain in the same range that we’ve seen over the last 10 months. It would not be unusual to see changes of even an entire whole percentage point up, or down, for however long this current policy remains in place. Therefore maintaining a comprehensive hedge strategy is a must to both benefit and protect your pipeline during these swings.
Are you currently renting? Is your lease coming up for renewal? Before you extend your lease for another year or two, why not consider exploring the possibility of buying instead of continuing to pay someone else’s mortgage? First of all, we are not going to say everyone should buy a house. Not everyone wants to. But there are many advantages to homeownership. On top of the normal benefits to homeownership, this is quite the time to buy! A few reasons to become a homeowner now rather than later include the following.
8 Reasons to Buy Now Instead of Renting
In many cases, renters are surprised to learn that the monthly mortgage payment to buy a house may be less than they pay for rent. However, since home prices are increasing, this translates to potentially more equity for you, the buyer. As a recent article mentions on Realtor.com, “After all, your home is your biggest investment and most significant asset.”, so why not buy now to take advantage of increased equity? While there is no guarantee that real estate will appreciate, historically it has and has been the largest asset for many who choose to buy. Furthermore, your landlord is keenly aware of this.
First-time buyers are affected most by a rise in the purchase price and values. The reason is this raises the entry price level homes. In any real estate market, a first-time buyer median price at $200,000 compared to $150,000 really knocks a lot of buyers out. For the most part, prices are not going down. Therefore, homebuyers have more advantages in purchasing now versus later.
Interesting to note, if housing is expected to rise, it is not only houses that are for sale …. You can expect the same from rentals as well. So it only makes sense to lock in a monthly payment that you can be comfortable with and have control over in the coming years.
It amazes us to hear so often that first-time buyers cannot buy a house because they don’t have a 20% down payment. That is quite the misconception! Options available for first-time buyers today include so many low to no down payment loan programs. Plus, just because there is a low or no down payment financing program option, it doesn’t mean the interest rates are much higher. Conversely, most interest rates for government loans such as VA, FHA, and USDA are lower than conventional rates with 20% down. Even when a down payment is required by a program, it may even be a gift! So the barrier to cross from a renter to a homeowner is about as low as it has been in years!