Mortgage rates edge up, but experts say recession unlikely

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(NewsNation) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates went up again this week, with interest at its highest level since 2009. The 30-year rate ticked up to 5.3% from 5.27% last week, when this time last year, it stood at almost 3%.

Nobody wants to see this end in a recession like the one in 2008, but there are a couple of key reasons a similar crash is unlikely, even as the cost of shelter continues to increase.

Jamie Matzdorff, a real estate agent with Keller-Williams Realty in Boise, Idaho, anticipates home prices will level off over the next few years.

Although no price decreases in the near future would be bad news for buyers, those who already own property are reaping the benefits. The typical American homeowner gained a record equity of $50,200 last year.

Some places are pricier to live than others. Boise tops the list of cities that are more than 50% overvalued, according to Moody’s Analytics, followed by Sherman-Denison, Texas, and Muskegon, Michigan.

Many of these places with overinflated prices offer breathtaking scenery. Matzdorff, of Boise, said having four full seasons helps sell the Treasure Valley area of Idaho. Changing lifestyles and attitudes stemming from the pandemic have sealed the deal.

“COVID has increased the rapid rate of being able to work from home and live where you want to live while you get to work from home,” Matzdorff said.

But average home buyers have to compete with big companies and rental agencies for property in those desirable locales.

Interest rates are going back up too, which can be a hurdle for many buyers — although Matzdorff insists they’re still getting a deal, saying, “6% is still a phenomenal rate. It’s just not 3%.”

That 3% rate had been the “luck of the draw,” Matzdorff said.

“(That) was like winning the lottery for three years,” she said. “The economy can’t sustain that.”

For those with an eye for trends, this is all too reminiscent of how the markets looked in 2007, right before a massive housing crash and recession. Is this bubble about to burst too?

Matzdorff and others predict it won’t now, for two core reasons. New federal rules have changed home lending in a positive way, so more people are likely to pay back their loans rather than default. And the U.S. is in the midst of a massive housing shortage.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac estimates America is about 4 million homes short of what the country needs.

Since the rate of home building was slowed by the pop of the last real estate bubble — and limited further by the pandemic — it’s going to take time for supply to catch up to demand. In the meantime, for those looking to move to a place like Boise, Matzdorff has some good news.

“I anticipate, and what we are seeing is, that things will continue to plateau, in this market at least, because we’re still a massively desirable place to be,” she said.

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