What Rising Mortgage Rates Mean For Buyers

When purchasing a house, a buyer’s chief concern, besides living in the home, is paying for it. Although mortgage rates are at historic lows, the gradual recovery of the economy and an increase in home sales may cause a rise in both rates and home prices. As the economy improves, investors generally stop buying bonds in favor of higher risk investments with greater returns. Because mortgage rates are in direct correlation with bonds, as the economy continues to improve, rates are likely to increase.

In addition, mortgage rates are trending toward their 2009 and 2010 levels. The fact is, a 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgage with 4% interest may become the future equivalent of the previously standard 3.25% mortgage. This new rate, however, is still extraordinarily low. The difference between these rates would amount to around $175 per month on a $417,000 (the threshold for conforming loans) mortgage. In other words, the change in rates would result in a buyer’s purchase affordability, decreasing the loan size by about $40,000.

Among the changes that have occurred in the market recently are that qualifications are stricter, reducing the loan size a borrower can qualify for versus 2003 underwriting guidelines. Including income, credit score, and credit history, etc., approvals are considerably more thorough. Because of these changes, getting into the housing market without pre-approval can create destructive difficulties for buyers. Whereas a rough approximation based on self-reported information had often been sufficient, the new, stricter standards mean that everything must be documented. Even minor differences between one’s hypothetical and official incomes can permanently disrupt closing. Similarly, inconsistent incomes such as bonuses may not be considered in year-to-year income, just as entrepreneurs’ incomes and taxes may not pass the financial litmus test. Essentially, a comprehensive underwritten pre-approval has become de facto mandatory – entering the market without one is foolish.

The sum of this information is that rates have increased ½ point since May 1st and housing prices have risen 8.8% May 2012 – May 2013 and are expected to continue to rise. For consumers, now is the perfect time to buy a home, as both prices and rates are still the lowest they’ve been in decades.

Article written by Richard Duffy