As of August 2023, interest rates are somewhere around 7%, possibly higher. While this isn’t astronomically high — they have historically been over 10% — it’s too high for current homeowners to want to exchange their homes. This is because 92% of current homeowners with a mortgage have an interest rate below 6%. Almost a quarter even have locked in an interest rate below 3%.
High home prices are actually somewhat helping current homeowners, since the price boost increases their equity. Prices have increased 14% in the past two years, which results in approximately $86,000 in equity over that time period. However, this may not be enough to offset the increased mortgage costs, especially for those with very low interest rates. Assuming a mortgage of $500,000 and a current interest rate of 3%, a new purchase with the same loan amount would result in a $1,200 increase in mortgage payments per month.
Normally, when demand is low like this, supply is high. This isn’t the case right now. Previously, we would have been able to blame declining construction due to increased construction costs. That’s no longer the case, though, as construction has largely, though not completely, recovered. It may even be simple lack of demand that is the final obstacle to a full recovery for construction. To see the real problem, remember which group we’re talking about — current homeowners. These are the same people who would be selling to buy a new home. If they’re not willing to buy in the current mortgage climate, they’re not selling either.