Low rates still keep homeowners locked in, but sellers ‘coming out of the woodwork’

Share of homeowners with mortgage rates under 6% is dropping

The vast majority of homeowners with mortgages still have an interest rate below what’s currently being offered, but listings are starting to claw upward despite the “lock-in effect,” according to new data from Redfin.

Some 88.5% of mortgage-carrying homeowners have an interest rate below 6%, per Redfin’s figures. That means that more than 88.5% of homeowners have a mortgage rate below the current 30-year rate of 6.66%, according to Freddie Mac. In fact, 78.7% have a rate below 5%, while 59.4% have a rate below 4%. A fortunate (or shrewd) 22.6% have a rate below 3%.

That imbalance is causing a disproportionate number of homeowners to forgo putting their houses on the market, creating the aforementioned lock-in effect and resulting in a dearth of listings for homebuyers.

But as Redfin quips in its report, it’s not realistic to stay put forever. The current share of homeowners with a mortgage rate under 6% is down from the all-time high of 92.8% set in mid-2022. The percentage is falling, in part, because some homeowners are simply having to give up their low rates to move. Some are selling due to circumstances like a divorce or a return to an onsite work schedule, while others simply want to move to a different location.

“I’m also working with homeowners who are bursting at the seams and selling because they’ve outgrown their current home,” said David Palmer, a Redfin agent in Seattle.

Listings are also on the uptick because rates have dropped enough recently to convince some homeowners to dive into the market, even with their low rates. The current mortgage rate has fallen substantially from the recent peak of around 8% in October.

“Sellers have started coming out of the woodwork because that’s typical for January and because mortgage rates have dropped,” Palmer said. “They’re also coming to terms with the fact that rates aren’t going back down to 3% any time soon, which makes it easier to pull the trigger on selling. But a lot of sellers are worried about finding their next house because even though listings are rising, there’s still a housing shortage. That’s part of the reason so many sellers remain on the sidelines.”


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