Mortgage rates continue to retreat. The average rate on 30-year mortgages ticked down to 6.42 percent this week from 6.43 percent the previous week, according to Bankrate’s national survey of large lenders.

“Mortgage rates declined for the third straight week, which is good news for potential homebuyers looking ahead to the spring homebuying season,” says Joel Kan, deputy chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association. “Homebuying activity remains tepid, but if rates continue to fall and home prices cool further, we expect to see potential buyers come back into the market. Many have been waiting for affordability challenges to subside.”

After a steep run-up for most of 2022, mortgage rates topped 7 percent in November. Though they’ve retreated from their autumn peak, rates remain well above their 2021 lows, and the continued run-up has roiled the housing market.

The Fed has been moving aggressively to control inflation. The central bank’s seven rate hikes in 2022 have created upward pressure on rates — while also raising the risk of a recession. While its moves are influential, the Fed doesn’t directly set fixed mortgage rates, however. The most relevant benchmark is the 10-year Treasury yield, which also has bounced around in recent weeks.

The 30-year fixed mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.5 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged 5.75 percent. A year ago, the  30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.71 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 6.74 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate average for this week is 2.66 percentage points higher than the 52-week low of 3.76 percent.

As for other loans:

Where mortgage rates are headed

Mortgage experts see rates decreasing over the coming year as the economy slows. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, said he expects rates to fall to 5.5 percent by mid-2023.

“We know the Fed will probably raise rates two more times,” he says, “but it looks like the 10-year Treasury has already incorporated that information.”

Glenn Brunker, president of mortgage lender Ally Home, says a decline in rates in 2023 will rejuvenate the housing market. “We expect mortgage rates to stabilize this year – hovering around 5 to 6 percent – and home prices may decline, giving buyers more negotiating power in 2023,” he says. 

Some borrowers already are finding deals below 6 percent. “Mortgage rates have fallen from over 7 percent in early November to the low 6 percent range, and for many well-qualified borrowers, to back in the high 5 percent range,” says James Sahnger of C2 Financial Corp. in Jupiter, Florida.

The national median family income for 2022 is $90,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the median price of an existing home sold in December was $366,900, according to the National Association of Realtors. Based on a 20 percent down payment and a mortgage rate of 6.42 percent, the monthly payment of $1,840 amounts to 25 percent of the typical family’s monthly income. A year ago, median family income was $79,900, the median home price was $364,600 and the average mortgage rate was 3.4 percent. Buying the typical home then required just 19 percent of a family’s monthly income.

Methodology

The Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders is conducted weekly. To conduct the National Average survey, Bankrate obtains rate information from the 10 largest banks and thrifts in 10 large U.S. markets. In the Bankrate.com national survey, our Market Analysis team gathers rates and/or yields on banking deposits, loans and mortgages. We’ve conducted this survey in the same manner for more than 30 years, and because it’s consistently done the way it is, it gives an accurate national apples-to-apples comparison. Our rates differ from other national surveys, in particular Freddie Mac’s weekly published rates. Each week Freddie Mac surveys lenders on the rates and points based on first-lien prime conventional conforming home purchase mortgages with a loan-to-value of 80 percent. “Lenders surveyed each week are a mix of lender types — thrifts, credit unions, commercial banks and mortgage lending companies — is roughly proportional to the level of mortgage business that each type commands nationwide,” according to Freddie Mac.