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The Fed’s forecast that it will cut interest rates three times in 2024, up from a previous projection of two times, is already helping with housing affordability. Daily average mortgage rates dropped to 6.82% after the Fed meeting.
The Fed held interest rates steady at its December 13 meeting, as expected, though they’re still sitting at their highest level in 22 years. Importantly, the Fed also forecast that they’ll cut rates three times in 2024, up from their previous projection of two cuts. Investors are now predicting six rate cuts from the Fed, up from five before this meeting. A rate hike next year is essentially off the table.
This is good news for homebuyers. The housing market badly needs mortgage rates to come down, and the Fed is now on a path to lower rates more and sooner than expected. Daily average mortgage rates have already dropped to 6.82%, their lowest level since May. The Fed’s acknowledgment that they won’t hike rates more next year signals a pivot: Instead of aggressively trying to bring inflation down, they’re giving consumers–especially homebuyers–some interest-rate relief.
It could bring more homes to the market, too. Lower mortgage rates should also give homebuyers more inventory to choose from. Would-be sellers who are handcuffed to low mortgage rates are likely to start coming off the sidelines as rates decline.
Mortgage rates should drop into the 6% range in 2024. This news is consistent with Redfin’s housing-market predictions, which forecast mortgage rates gradually declining and ending 2024 in the mid-6% range. While rates won’t drop to pandemic-era lows, 6% will be a relief to buyers after hitting 8% a few months ago. Today’s economic news brings a bit more hope to young Americans who have been priced out of homeownership because it signals that homes should become more affordable in 2024. If supply increases more than demand, as Redfin expects, prices should also fall a bit next year.
Investors’ anticipation of cutting interest rates is already bringing down the 10-year treasury yield, which should push mortgage rates down this week. When the likelihood of rate cuts becomes more certain in 2024, mortgage rates should fall more.
The Fed’s decision is consistent with this week’s inflation and jobs data. All of the latest economic data is pointing to a so-called soft landing, which is what the Fed wants–though we’re not at the finish line quite yet. The December 12 CPI report came in a bit firmer than expected, but it still shows solid progress toward the Fed’s inflation goal. The December 8 jobs report was also slightly hotter than expected, but taking all recent labor-market data into account, the labor market is showing signs of weakness while remaining resilient.
Consumers’ vibes about the economy should improve next year. Cooling inflation and better price stability may improve the country’s economic mood. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said declining inflation should lead to an increase in real wages (wage increases above and beyond inflation), which could make Americans feel better about their bank accounts. Falling mortgage rates should also help bring good vibes: High housing costs are a major reason a lot of Americans have bad vibes about their finances even though much of the U.S. economy is strong on paper.