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Volatility in Mortgage Rates as Recession Fears Grow

Borrowing costs tick up again as the Federal Reserve’s inflation policy has economists bracing for even higher rates in the future.

July 14, 2022

Mortgage rates are showing volatility as the economy slows and recession fears take center stage. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to an average of 5.51% this week, up from 5.3% last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Home buyers are facing rising costs across the spectrum. Inflation shot to a new 40-year high in June and is accelerating even faster than expected, according to Consumer Price Index data released Wednesday, raising the prospect of a recession. The CPI jumped 9.1% last month, leading to a spike in grocery costs, record-high gas prices, and escalating rents. To boot, monthly mortgage payments soared 51% higher year over year, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®. The median price for an existing home rose 14.6% year over year in May.

“With the potential of a more aggressive rate hike from the Federal Reserve at the end of the month, mortgage rates will likely rise even further,” says Nadia Evangelou, NAR’s senior economist and director of forecasting. “However, even with this increase, mortgage rates will continue to be historically low—below 8%—in 2022.”

Each bump upward in mortgage rates is being felt hard by home buyers. “Mortgage rates are volatile as economic growth slows due to fiscal and monetary drags,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “With rates the highest in over a decade, home prices at escalated levels and inflation continuing to impact consumers, affordability remains the main obstacle to homeownership for many Americans.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending July 14:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 5.51%, with an average 0.8 point, increasing from last week’s 5.30% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 2.88%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.67%, with an average 0.8 point, also rising from last week’s 4.45% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.22%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 4.35%, with an average 0.2 point, increasing from last week’s 4.19% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.47%.

Freddie Mac reports commitment rates along with average points to better reflect the total upfront costs of obtaining a mortgage.