U.S. mortgage rates are at their lowest level in the past three years, generating an opportunity for potential homeowners to have more buying power.
Mortgage rates have sunk to 3.53% for both the 30-year fixed and refinance rates on Friday, as Britain's vote to leave the European Union continues to put pressure on them, according to Bankrate. The 15-year fixed rate is 2.71%, as the U.S. 10-year Treasury note plummeted to 1.446% ahead of the July 4th holiday, giving consumers a chance to take advantage of the decline and obtain lower monthly payments.
The outcome of the referendum triggered the rapid declines in mortgage rates, and buyers who have a strong credit score and down payment can afford an 8% higher price compared to January, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based real estate company. While the prices of homes in some regions of the U.S. have risen since the beginning of the year, the increase in "buying power is more than offsetting the higher prices," he said.
Potential homebuyers who were debating purchasing a home in the next year or two should "consider if it is possible to move their plans forward," said Smoke. Consumers who were already shopping for a condo or house should act "sooner" since the lower rates will easily save them thousands of dollars over the course of the loan, he said.
"The lower rates alone likely won't justify a decision to buy now if existing housing is adequate for current and immediate future needs," Smoke said.
The sluggish economic growth means the odds that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates remains slim and homebuyers can "rest assured that mortgage rates will remain at very low levels throughout 2016," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.
"Don't accelerate your home buying timetable to chase today's mortgage rates any more than you would get married because of a sale at the bridal shop," he said.
Homeowners with higher adjustable rate mortgages should consider refinancing them into a 15-year or 30-year fixed rate mortgage, McBride said.
"Mortgage rates have fallen in response to the Brexit market sell-off, creating a great opportunity to refinance at rates that are near record lows," he said.
Sellers Can Benefit
Homeowners who are planning to sell their house this year can also take advantage of the lower mortgage rates, because buyers are more anxious to lock in rates.
"We estimate that 86% of today's sellers also intend to buy," Smoke said. "We need more inventory in most markets, so it is not too late to get a home listed while demand is at its peak. The best window of opportunity is likely now through Labor Day."
The availability of homes in the lower price points is estimated to decline while more expensive homes are expected to rise, he said.
"Despite weak economic growth in 2016, home sales this spring have been the best in a decade thanks to pent-up demand, positive demographic shifts and lower mortgage rates," he said.
Mortgage rates could bounce bank and rally in a few months, said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, a San Francisco-based real estate website.
"While the departure of the U.K. from the European Union has driven down the 10-year bond and mortgage rates, we expect them to rebound later in the year as uncertainty over the economic consequences the departure lifts."