Promising Inflation Report Makes It Less Likely Buyers Will See an 8% Mortgage Rate Anytime Soon

Promising Inflation Report Makes It Less Likely Buyers Will See an 8% Mortgage Rate Anytime Soon


Serious homebuyers should be on the lookout for a good time to lock in a lower mortgage rate–and now could be that time. The October inflation report has already pushed mortgage rates down to 7.4% from nearly 7.6% the day before.

Good inflation news. Headline inflation was unchanged from the month before in October. That’s down from a month-over-month rate of 0.4% in September, mostly due to gas prices coming down. Stripping away food and energy, core inflation was up 0.2% month over month (versus expectations of a 0.3% increase) and down slightly from 0.3% in September. Shelter inflation fell to 0.3% month over month, which is more in line with the readings we had been getting since the summer and shows that the surprising 0.6% increase last month was likely statistical noise. Given what we’re seeing in Redfin’s rental price data–it shows that U.S. asking rents have been sluggish since early 2023–we should expect shelter inflation to continue falling.

Easing inflation could drive down rent prices. The stagnation of rental prices is helping shelter inflation slow down. To take it full circle, inflation slowing down is likely to ease rental price growth even more. That’s because if slowing inflation helps bring mortgage rates down, demand to buy homes is likely to increase–which means demand for rentals is likely to decline, which would drive down rental prices.

The Fed is very unlikely to hike rates in December–and might cut rates earlier than expected. Combined with the weak jobs report we got on November 3, this really puts the nail in the coffin for a December rate hike from the Fed. Given the general tenor of the data recently, I’d say the July 27, 2023 hike was the final hike of this cycle. Even if the Fed doesn’t rule another one out in their December 13 press conference, market participants will shift their focus to how long the Fed holds here before they cut. Currently, cuts are not expected until the second half of 2024–but incoming data could always change that. Based on today’s inflation data, investors are starting to price in the first rate cut in May 2024. The 10-year treasury rate fell more than 15 basis points by the time the street was able to digest the news in this morning’s inflation release this morning. 

Now could be a good time for homebuyers to lock in a mortgage rate. People serious about buying a home soon should keep in close touch with their lender in the coming days so they know when a good opportunity to lock in a rate pops up. This is probably one of those times. Daily average mortgage rates dropped to 7.4% this morning from 7.58% yesterday. That’s their lowest level since mid-September, with the exception of a 7.38% rate on November 3. 

Chen Zhao

Chen Zhao

Chen Zhao leads the economics team at Redfin, where she produces research on the housing market for public and internal audiences. Previously, she was an executive director leading housing finance and financial markets research at the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Prior to joining JPMCI, Chen was an economics consultant at Analysis Group, Inc., where she worked on financial litigation cases and led teams conducting health economics and outcomes research on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. While in graduate school, Chen was with the Center for Economic Studies and the Social Economic and Housing Statistics Division at the US Census Bureau, where she conducted applied microeconomics research using large scale restricted-access linked survey-administrative data. She started her career at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, where she focused on labor and health economics.

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