Mortgage Rates Jump Right as Home Prices Drop, Offering Buyers a Mixed Bag

As April ushers in a new month, here’s what recent real estate market statistics mean for buyers and sellers.

Mortgage rates rose this week, fueling concerns among homebuyers as they venture out into the spring housing market.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan inched up from 6.79% to 6.82% for the week ending April 3, according to Freddie Mac.

Despite this dispiriting news, the spring market is still showing some positive signals that should make homebuyers happy.

“Heading into April and the busy spring housing market, buyers can look forward to more for-sale options than last year, at roughly the same price,” says® economist Hannah Jones in her most recent analysis

Here’s what recent real estate statistics suggest is in store for homebuyers and sellers in this latest installment of “How’s the Housing Market This Week?

Mortgage Rates Continue Recent Trend

Mortgage rates have been stuck bouncing in the high 6% range since December, frustrating homebuyers hoping for a break.

“Since the start of 2024, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has not reached 7% but has not dropped below 6.6% either,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “While incoming economic signals indicate lower rates of inflation, we do not expect rates will decrease meaningfully in the near-term.”

Though rates aren’t predicted to fall any time soon, that hasn’t stopped some sellers—long stuck on the housing-market sidelines—from taking action.

“A higher mortgage rate has been a deal breaker for many over the last year, but an increasing number of homeowners are choosing to sell as we approach what is the ideal time—the week of April 14-20,” says chief economist Danielle Hale.

Some buyers, however, might continue to hold off for lower mortgage rates.

“Elevated mortgage rates have been a persistent market challenge, holding back first-time homebuyers and repeat homebuyers alike,” adds Hale.

Home Prices Fall Slightly

Although high mortgage rates could be discouraging some homebuyers, the good news is that home prices fell annually by 0.6% for the week ending March 30.

“This is the second week of year-over-year price decline since July 2023,” says Jones. (Nationally, home prices hovered at a median of $424,900 in March.)

Plus, the share of listings that saw price reductions rose to 15% in March, marking only the second time this percentage reached this high in March since 2017, when first began tracking this data.

In addition to price reductions, there’s a pool of homes for sale that clock in way below the median home price to begin with. Affordable homes priced between $200,000 and $350,000 climbed 30.5% compared to March last year, with the most homes found in the South.

“Though affordability conditions have not improved greatly over the last year across the U.S., more affordable inventory has made its way onto the market,” says Jones.

The Inventory Big Picture

For the week ending March 30, new listings fell by 7.8% compared to the previous year’s levels. This ends a 22-week streak of increasing fresh listings, but this might be attributable more to the Easter holiday than an actual change in housing dynamics. 

“This decline is in part due to how the Easter holiday fell this year compared to last year,” explains Jones. “We expect to see this drop correct in next week’s data.” 

Despite this dip in fresh listings, overall inventory increased for the week ending March 30, with for-sale homes 25% above year-ago levels.

“For the 21st straight week, active listings registered above the prior year’s level, which means that today’s home shoppers are able to consider more options for existing homes for sale,” says Jones.

The caveat for the last few years still holds true: The total number of homes for sale is down 37.9% compared to typical levels seen in 2017-2019.

Buyers Are Snapping Up Limited Inventory

Another streak was broken for the week ending March 30.

For the first time in six months, instead of selling faster, homes spent the same amount of time on the market as the year prior. (In March, homes spent a median of 50 days on the market.)

The data doesn’t necessarily mean homebuyers don’t have to make timely offers when they see a home that fits their budget and wants list.

“While inventory has grown notably compared to last year, homes are still selling relatively quickly, likely because inventory levels are still significantly lower than pre-pandemic times,” says Jones. “More home options mean more buyers are finding what they are looking for amid scarce inventory, so homes continue to move relatively quickly.”