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Rollercoasters are designed to take riders on an unpredictable journey with periods of exhilaration, intensity and fear. Kind of sounds like the housing market over the last twelve months, doesn’t it?

2022 was truly a roller coaster year in housing. Just to look at one metric that we’ve been following all year, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate in January of 2022 was 3.60%–in December of 2022 that rate stood at 6.39%. That was just a few weeks after it average rate reached 7.20%, its highest level in twenty years. 

While signs of a changing rate environment were evident a year, we had no way of knowing how much mortgage rates were going to rise in 12 months. Some things that affected those changing rates, like war in Ukraine and rising inflation, had yet to take hold. So needless to say, it’s a much different housing market that we preview heading into 2023 than it was last year.


Where will rates go?

The number one concern for most people who are interested in buying a home in 2023 is what is going to happen to mortgage rates. Rates have gone up in relation to the Federal Reserve’s federal funds rate, which has risen from near zero at the beginning of 2022 to around 4.25% by the end of the year. The Fed is expected to keep increasing their rate in order to get inflation under control, but at a slower pace in the first part of 2023. 

That should affect mortgage rates, allowing them to continue dropping. As mentioned above, national average rates hit 7.20% at the end of October, then started dropping. This was partially due to good news on inflation and the Fed indicating that they were going to ease up on rate hikes. 


Expert predictions on rates

Many of the most respected industry watchers are predicting that rates will continue to come down in 2023. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) both are forecasting that mortgage rates come down throughout the year, and finish 2023 in the mid-5% range. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac take less optimistic views, seeing rates hovering in the high-6% range and finishing the year near 6.2%-6.5%.

The wild card in this outlook is inflation. The Fed is trying hard to put a dent in rising inflation, and the latest reports suggest that inflation is at least slowing down. If this continues, you can hope to see mortgage rates behave like the MBA and NAR are predicting. However, if inflation rises, rates may stay near where they are now—or even go up—for the year.

Home prices: Up or down?

Tracking home prices can be a good news/bad news proposition. When home prices go up, that’s good news for homeowners and sellers, but bad news for homebuyers. When they go down, that could be seen as bad news for homeowners as their home’s value is also theoretically going down, as well.