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Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fall below 4 percent; first time in history

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - Mortgage Interest RatesThis morning, Freddie Mac released the results of it’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealing that the interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.94 percent, dropping below 4.0 percent for the first time in history! All I can say is WOW!

Look at what an impact interest rates have:

Last week, I did the little exercise below to show just how much interest rates affect your buying power and the cost of a home. I decided to leave this in tact and now update it to show what a difference another drop of just .07 percent in the rate makes:

  • $1,866/month back in 1979 when I first entered the real estate business (I know I’m dating myself) and interest rates were 11.2 percent.
  • $1,066/month during the height of the boom in 2006 when interest rates were 6.4 percent.
  • $ 668/month 1 WEEK AGO at the, then, record low rate of 4.01 percent.
  • $656/month TODAY at the new record-low rate.

Throw reduced home prices into the mix as well and see how good it gets:

In addition to the falling interest rates, home prices have fallen significantly as well, making owning a home more affordable than ever. According to the Case-Shiller home price index, home prices have dropped 30.7 percent from 2006 until today, so that means today, to buy the same house as our example above that required a $200,000 loan in 2006 we would be buying it for 30.7 percent less so only need a loan of $138,600 to buy the same house which, coupled with the reduced interest rates, see what a difference it makes:

  • Cost in 2006 $1,066/month
  • Cost LAST week $ 372/month
  • Cost today $ 365/month

Sure, the price declines are national, what does this look like for St. Louis?

Ok, since the Case-Shiller Index does not take St. Louis into account, and our market has done better than many metros across the country, let’s pull in some St. Louis data:

St. Louis City & County –

  • 2006 Median home price – $ 145,000
  • 2011 Median home price – $119,000
  • Decline of 17.9% – so if we apply this to my scenario above, a borrower would need to borrow $164,200 today to buy the same home as a $200,000 loan would have gotten him or her in 2006, so the savings is not as large as the U.S. example above, but still pretty good:
    • Cost in 2006 $1,066/month
    • Cost LAST week $ 497/month
    • Cost TODAY $486/month
    • Savings of 54 percent!

St. Charles County –

  • 2006 Median home price – $ 195,240
  • 2011 Median home price – $155,000
  • Decline of 20.6% – so if we apply this to my scenario above, a borrower would need to borrow $158,800 today to buy the same home as a $200,000 loan would have gotten him or her in 2006, so the savings is not as large as the U.S. example above, but still pretty good:
    • Cost in 2006 $1,066/month
    • Cost LAST week $ 471/month
    • Cost TODAY $ 461/month
    • Savings of 56.7 percent!

So someone in St. Louis can buy a home today for roughly 50 percent less (in terms of monthly cost) than what the same home would have cost them 5 years ago. Even though I tend to me a little negative on the housing market (because I’m trying to be realistic) I have to say I think the TIME IS NOW to buy a home. Granted, it’s easier for folks that don’t already own a home which, with home ownership truly being cheaper than rent I don’t understand how someone that is in a position to be able to buy a home would choose to rent today, but even for those people that currently own a home we’re going to be hard pressed to see a time when it will be more affordable than it is now to make a move up. Yeah, you may have to take your lumps on your house, but assuming you are moving up, your gain on your new home should out-weigh the pain on your existing home.

 

 

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