Call it a grand irony. Donald Trump rode to victory on an electorate looking for a better economy and a better standard of living, but the financial market reaction caused a huge spike in mortgage interest rates. That just threw a big wrench into affordability for homebuyers.
Investors piled into the U.S. stock market post-election and pulled out of bond markets, causing bond yields to surge. Mortgage rates loosely follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury.
In turn, the average contract interest rate on the popular 30-year fixed loan jumped a quarter of a percentage point in the last two days, from 3.60 percent to 3.85 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily.
“Even I was surprised to see how quickly lenders pulled back today. Different lenders have moved by different amounts, but on average, the 2 day total is 0.25 percent!” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily.
For the average person buying a $200,000 home, the difference in the monthly payment from Friday to today is about $28. While that may not sound like a lot, if that buyer wanted to get the same rate today as Tuesday, that buyer would have to add $4,000 in upfront costs on the loan.
Also, higher rates make it harder for some borrowers to qualify for the loan because the debt-to-income limits may not work. It is also likely that rates could surge even higher before leveling off.
“Sometimes a simple momentum analogy is that of swimming. It’s easier to swim with the current versus against it,” Graham said.
Housing affordability has already been weakening, thanks to fast-rising home prices.
“In all, 61.4 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,700. This is down from the 62.0 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the first quarter,” according to a monthly survey from the National Association of Home Builders.
That survey covers the third quarter of this year, before mortgage rates spiked. The headline was that affordability weakened despite lower rates. Clearly it will weaken more in the coming months as rates rise along with home prices.