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Mortgage rates advance toward 8%

Oct 19, 2023, 12:06 PM

An aerial view of homes in a housing development on September 08, in Santa Clarita, California.

An aerial view of homes in a housing development on September 08, in Santa Clarita, California. Mandatory Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Washington, DC (CNN) — Mortgage rates continued to climb last week amid a stronger-than-expected economy and geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 7.63% in the week ending October 19, up from 7.57% the week before, according to data from Freddie Mac released Thursday. A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate was 6.94%.

“Mortgage rates continued to approach 8% this week, further impacting affordability,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, in a statement.

The average mortgage rate is based on mortgage applications that Freddie Mac receives from thousands of lenders across the country. The survey includes only borrowers who put 20% down and have excellent credit. A current buyer’s rate may be different.

Not only are homebuyers feeling the impact of rising rates, but home builders are as well, Khater said.

“Construction of new homes rebounded in September but as rates keep rising, home builders appear to be losing confidence,” he said. “As a result, we expect construction to trend down in the short-term.”

That will further hurt inventory levels, and the low inventory of homes to buy is one of the main reasons prices are staying as high as they are right now.

Rates expected to stay ‘higher for longer’

Mortgage rates have spiked during the Federal Reserve’s historic inflation-curbing campaign — and while a good deal of progress has been made since June 2022, when inflation hit 9.1%, Fed officials say there is still a ways to go.

The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures index, is currently 3.9%, which is nearly double the Fed’s target of 2%. But it is the lowest annual increase that index has seen in two years and is seen as a positive step toward the Fed’s target. The next rate-setting meeting by the Federal Reserve will be October 31 and November 1.

Rates this week averaged higher as investors reacted to hotter than expected retail sales data and a stronger than expected labor market in September.

“While under typical circumstances, such positive data would be a reason for cheer among investors and businesses,” said Jiayi Xu, economist at Realtor.com, “it has now raised concerns regarding the inflation outlook and the likelihood of further Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, which increase the possibility of mortgage rates hitting 8% in the coming months.”

The 10-year Treasury yield surpassed 4.9% for the first time since 2007.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on 10-year US Treasuries, which move based on a combination of anticipation about the Fed’s actions, what the Fed actually does and investors’ reactions. When Treasury yields go up, so do mortgage rates; when they go down, mortgage rates tend to follow. While the Fed does not set the interest rates that borrowers pay on mortgages directly, its actions influence them.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Mortgage rates advance toward 8%