It’s safe to say now that the action brought to the nation’s housing markets by the Homebuyer Tax Credit is over. Any buyers who wished to take advantage of this credit had to have been in contract by April 30 and now must close by June 30.
But please remain seated before exiting this ride and declaring the housing market D-O-O-M-E-D (as several headlines have cried this week). See, there is still a very key factor in place that is working in homebuyers’ favor:
Historically Low Interest Rates
This often-overlooked little fact is actually a really important point to ponder. That’s because when you look at today’s rates, which average around 4.75 percent on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest survey, you realize what a win this is for borrowers – even for those who missed the tax credit deadline.
These low rates are far more significant than any tax credit in terms of savings and incentive to stoke demand. How is that? Well, let’s look at the math:
Let’s say today’s buyer is looking at a 5 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan of $285,000. He’s disappointed at missing out on the tax credit, but since he’s able to lock in at a lower rate than he would’ve gotten two months ago at 5.25 percent, he’s actually saving $15,782 in interest over the life of the loan, which according to my math is significantly higher savings than what that tax credit would’ve gotten him ($8,000).
So today’s buyer nearly doubles his savings in interest compared with the April tax-credit buyers? Doesn’t spell D-O-O-M to me.
Let’s look at another scenario:
This buyer would be able to lock in a 5.25 percent rate on a 30-year fixed loan of $400,000 in July. There’s no tax credit to light a fire under his decision, but say the economic news circles expect a slight uptick in rates by the end of August. If he waits, he’ll risk increasing his rate to 5.35 percent, thereby adding $8,943 in interest to the life of his loan.
I’m not saying that rates will save the day. Remember: There are no quick fixes. But we also have to be sure we understand the forces that are working in the market’s favor.
Tax credits may come and go, but at the end of the day it’s things like historic low interest rates that will keep buyers interested.