While housing demand continues to rebound, the month-long swoon in economic activity has caused the 10-year Treasury benchmark to drop. In the short-term, this means the demand will continue on the back of near record low mortgage rates. However, the most recent consumer spending data has been pointing to slow growth since mid-June. The concern is that the pause in economic activity will cause unemployment to remain elevated which will lead to longer-term labor market distress.
Mortgage rates fell below 3 percent for the first time in 50 years. The drop has led to increased homebuyer demand and, these low rates have been capitalized into asset prices in support of the financial markets. However, the countervailing force for the economy has been the rise in new virus cases which has caused the economic recovery to stagnate, and this economic pause puts many temporary layoffs at risk of ossifying into permanent job losses.
Mortgage rates continue to slowly drift downward with a distinct possibility that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage could dip below 3 percent later this year. On the economic front, incoming data suggest the rebound in economic activity has paused in the last couple of weeks with modest declines in consumer spending and a pullback in purchase activity.
While the rebound in the economy is uneven, one segment that is exhibiting strength is the housing market. Purchase demand activity is up over twenty percent from a year ago, the highest since January 2009. Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to declining inflationary pressures, putting many home buyers in the buying mood. However, it will be difficult to sustain the momentum in demand as unsold inventory was at near record lows coming into the pandemic and it has only dropped since then.
The rebound in homebuyer demand continued this week, driven by mortgage rates that hover near record lows. This turnaround in demand, particularly by those who have higher incomes than the typical household, also reflects deferred sales from the Spring.
As the economy is slowly rebounding, all signs continue to point to a solid recovery in home sales activity heading into the summer as prospective buyers jump back into the market. Low mortgage rates are a key factor in this recovery. While homebuyer demand is up and has been broad-based across most geographies, supply has been slower to improve. In fact, the gap between supply and demand has widened even further than the large gap that existed prior to the pandemic.
For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic. As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago. Going forward, mortgage rates have room to decline as mortgage spreads remain elevated.
Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows for the fifth straight week and homeowners are taking advantage with refinance activity remaining high. Although purchase demand declined thirty-five percent year-over-year in mid-April, demand has improved modestly over the last three weeks.
Mortgage rates continue to hover near all-time lows for the third straight week. As a result, refinance activity remains high, but home purchase demand is weak due to economic tightening. While new monthly economic data are driving markets lower this week, they are a lagging indicator and should be priced in already. Real time daily economic activity metrics suggest that the economy will likely not decline much further. Going forward, the key question is no longer the depth of the economic contraction, but the duration.
While mortgage rates remained flat over the last week, there is room for rates to move down. This year the 10-year Treasury market has declined by over a full percentage point, yet mortgage rates have only declined by one-third of a point. As financial markets continue to heal,