Mortgage rates haven’t been this high since 2019

March 17, 2022, 2:47 PM UTC

Mortgage rates just topped 4% for the first time since 2019, a milestone that could introduce more chaos to the turbulent real estate market.

Freddie Mac reports the rate for a fixed 30-year loan jumped to 4.16%, a surge of 31 basis points, as the 10-year Treasury yield topped 2%. And experts say that could go a lot higher before the end of the year.

“I expect that we will continue to see mortgage rates climbing in the months ahead, as they are likely to pass 4.5% before year’s end,” said George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s manager of economic research. “The days of sub-3.0% interest rates are firmly behind us, and we have yet to solve the market fundamentals of supply and demand.”

The increase in rates means the average monthly mortgage payment is almost $340 higher than it was a year ago, adds Ratiu, adding over $4,000 per year in expenses. (And a surge to 4.5% could double those numbers.)

The rise in rates comes as the number of available homes is still minimal. On Friday, Zillow reported that U.S. inventory sank to 729,000 home listings in February. That’s down 25% from February 2021, and a decrease of 48% since February 2020.

Some experts say the combination of a rise in mortgage rates and inflation could cull the number of potential buyers, which could result in a slowdown in home prices.

Not everyone agrees with that, though. Earlier this week, Bank of America said it believes U.S. home prices will finish 2022 10% higher, nearly double the average home price growth we’ve seen for more than 30 years.

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