Mortgage rates are rising, but the housing market’s still hot

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On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors will release the latest data on sales of existing homes. The numbers are expected to offer a closer look at the big shift underway in the U.S. housing market as interest rates on mortgages continue to rise.

The real cost of buying a house is skyrocketing, per Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the association.

“The same home, purchasing now versus one year ago, you will be up about 50% in monthly mortgage payment.”

That’s because home prices keep rising, so buyers need to get bigger mortgages. And the interest rates on those mortgages are now around 6% — up from about 3% a year ago.

“We were simply waiting for this to happen, where mortgage rates would go back up and reduce what I would describe as artificially strong activity in the for-purchase side,” said Brad Dillman, chief economist at Cortland.

The impact of the Federal Reserve’s campaign to increase its benchmark rate is still playing out. Lately, Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather has been using the term “hibernation” to describe this changing housing market.

“Just in terms of, like, how little activity is happening right now for both buyers and sellers,” she said.

Data shows the number of pending sales is down 8% from last year, thanks largely to those higher mortgage rates. But, she added, this is hardly a weak housing market.

“Homes are selling just as quickly as ever. Fifty percent of homes are still going under contract within two weeks,” Fairweather said.

Buyers are adapting to the fast pace of change, said Jonathan Miller, CEO of real estate appraiser Miller Samuel. But sellers?

“It’s hard for them to capitulate to market conditions because they’re sort of wedded to what the value is, and then all of a sudden conditions change,” he said.

Miller added that a market in which bidding wars for homes have become the norm is just not sustainable.

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