The era of lower-than-ever mortgage rates is long gone, and it’s been replaced by rates hovering around 7%. but homeowners locking in lower prices before or during the Pandemic Housing Boom did not sell. In fact, some of them become “accidental landlords,” simply because they don’t want to lose their low prices in the past.
Like that, the so-called lock-in effect putting pressure on both sides of the market. There aren’t as many buyers looking for new digs and not as many sellers looking to move up or down, if they’re stuck with a mortgage rate that’s more than twice as high as their old one.
Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said luck that the high rate is the inhibition of the activity. “They look at their monthly payment, which is less if they lock in a 3% mortgage rate compared to what their monthly payment would be if they sell and buy again, which is more high is how high the mortgage rate is,” Fairweather said. “And it makes a lot of sense for them to keep those low interest rates.”
Although rates have declined from their 7.37% peak, the 30 year fixed mortgage rate reached 6.57% on Monday. According to Goldman Sachs, 99% of borrowers have a mortgage rate lower than 6% (or the current market rate). Of these, 28% locked in rates at or below 3% and 72% locked in rates at or below 4%.
So if you took out a $700,000 loan with a 7% rate, your total monthly payment would be $4,657. But with the same size loan at a 4% rate, your monthly payment would be $3,342. Let’s say it’s a 3% rate with the same size loan, your monthly payment would be $2,951. This is the golden handcuff of mortgage payments, and it keeps low-cost homeowners from selling and making some landlords.
Fairweather said there is both anecdotal evidence and data showing that homeowners are holding tight to their low prices. For example, new listings of homes for sale fell 21.7% year-over-year for the four-week period ending March 5, making it the largest decline in two months. according to Redfin. During the same period, the largest declines were seen in Sacramento (by -45.6%), Oakland (-44.5%), Portland (-42.3%), San Jose (-42.1%), and Seattle (-41.2%).
Michael Zuber, author of One Rent at a Time and former tech worker turned real estate investor, SPOKE luck that 30-year fixed mortgage at a rate of 3% is without question one of the best assets most homeowners can have.
“They don’t have to sell it, they have to rent it,” Zuber said, adding that many people have Twitter He was told they were making about $1,000 a month after expenses from doing that, adding sarcastically that the prospect of that was “not good.”
For those who don’t want to deal with the hassle that is sometimes associated with renting their properties or even being a landlord, Zuber said that “if you don’t like the money, go ahead. [and sell].” With his own assets, Zuber said he spent nine months refinancing all his debt at sub-4% at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, all fixed for 30 years.
“Inflation is real, but if you have an asset where the debt is fixed, and especially if it’s set at 3% and we’re running with inflation above 3%, you’ve won. It’s like printing money,” said Zuber. “It’s a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, that’s the magic of it.”
CEO and founder of wealth and investment website Top Dollar, Josh Dudick, said luck that once mortgage rates fell, around 2020 and 2021, he refinanced his vacation home in the Hamptons with a 30-year fixed rate below 3%. Dudick said he considered selling but decided to rent it because he would have to pay the capital gains when he returns and he would lose the “very low mortgage rate” he had locked in. monthly mortgage payments and more, all while the value of the home (which he originally bought for more than $1.5 million) doubled, Dudick said.
“You can’t lock in that incredible leverage, so at this point, I plan to stay consistent … I still have a very good leveraged return,” Dudick said. luckand added that even if the rates drop a little, he has no plans to sell.
David Highbarger, an agile coach and founder of Reaction Agility, spoke luck that he was thinking of selling his Florida home but “hated the idea of wasting” his low 3% rate, especially since he was looking at a rate of around 6.5% for his next home. Highbarger bought the house more than a year ago, but had to move for personal reasons.
“When I started looking at buying another house I was attracted to 6.5%…even [a high credit] score, they still wanted 6.5%, which killed me,” Highbarger said.
After talking to her neighbors and learning how much they were asking tenants to pay in rent, Highbarger decided to rent it out, which now covers her monthly mortgage payment, insurance, and taxes. —which makes him a small profit every month. Highbarger said it “seems like a better return, a better use of my money, than owning it,” especially, as the house appreciates. Highbarger later added that the 3% rate is exactly what allows him to do this, and he hasn’t had much trouble so far considering “there’s no shortage of people looking for rentals.”
Los Angeles based real estate agent with CompassMackenzie Stone, said luck that everyone around him is buying, including his clients, and he has to take all the action. Stone bought his home in Los Angeles in the summer of 2021 when prices are lower but expected to rise. His offer was one of 30, at full asking price. He locked in 30-year fixed rates in the low fours, which Stone said, “is absolutely crazy compared to where they are now.”
Stone bought the house for more than $1.6 million and hoped to eventually sell it as its value increased, but “he’s really holding on to this point just because of the low interest rates.” Instead of renting it for a long time, Stone rents it through Airbnb and made about three times his monthly mortgage because of the low rate.
With fewer sellers, inventory is restricted and supplies are in short supply. Zuber said luck that in “one market there are really three markets,” the luxury market, the high-moving market, and the first-time homebuyer market. The luxury market shrank, with purchases falling a record 44.6% year-over-year in the three months ended Jan. 31., according to Redfin. The moving market is “dead, for the most part, because to move up you have to sell the first home,” Zuber said. But the first-time home buying market is hot because there isn’t enough inventory, which is exacerbated by homeowners locking in their low prices and choosing not to sell.