Seattle Mortgage Rate Rise Was A DoubleBarreled Surprise

Dated: 11/28/2016

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Last week, when Seattle mortgage rates began to rise abruptly, you’d have to say that it was actually a double-barreled surprise. In addition to the sudden blip up on the mortgage rate charts, there was the second shocker: that so many expert observers were taken by surprise.

Even though the actual rise in mortgage rates was what Zillow’s chief economist called “a relatively modest” increase, it prompted The New York Times to headline the fact that lenders and home buyers alike had all been caught off guard. With Seattle mortgage rates having remained under 4% for years, the notion that experts could be taken by surprise whenever they began to rise has to rate as the real shocker.

With experts, lenders, and home shoppers having been surprised by last week’s rate uptick, the real question is whether they will continue to be surprised if rates keep climbing. True, nobody has a reliable calendar showing exactly where Seattle rates will be at any given point in time, but a dispassionate survey of history (credit Jim Whittaker’s real estate marketing blog) reveals the following compilation of the national averages for mortgage rates:

1970s:  8.85%

1980s: 12.7%

1990s:  8.12%

2000s:  6.29%

2010s: 3.5%

Freddie Mac’s market survey showed last week’s average at 3.94%. Taking a look at the historical record, you have to wonder if lenders and other experts will be equally “surprised” if and when rates top 4%...or 5%...or 6%?

It’s hard not to conclude that for Seattle sellers—as well as for all those who have been thinking about buying a home eventually—last week’s mortgage rate “surprise” should come as a wake-up call to action. Many others have already foreseen the opportunity: October’s national existing home sales reached the highest annualized pace in nearly a decade. According to the NAR®, “all major regions saw monthly and annual sales increases in October.” Housing starts were up, as well.

Low mortgage interest rates are not the only reason to list your Seattle property or decide that now is the time to shop for your next home. But the fact that they remain (at least for the moment) as low as they do is so important to the bottom line cost of owning a home that it should be no “surprise” at all that consumers see why today’s market looks like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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Ron Harmon | Designated Broker

As a dedicated real estate broker I have helped over 500 families purchase or sell their home and I am qualified to guide you through buying or selling a home. Buying or selling a home is one of t....

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