A new Zillow survey has identified the mortgage rate tipping point that makes homeowners more likely to move, which is key in unlocking the housing market and slowing price growth.

According to a news release homeowners with a mortgage rate above 5% are nearly twice as likely to say that they plan to sell their home than those paying a rate below 5%.

By the Numbers

Zillow’s survey finds that about 80% of mortgage holders reported having a rate of less than 5%, and about 90% have a rate of less than 6%. Almost one-third reported a rate of less than 3%.

As today’s mortgage rates near 7%, a vast majority of homeowners would need to finance a new home at a higher rate than the rate they currently hold, adding hundreds of dollars a month to their mortgage payment and creating an incentive to hold on to their home rather than move. This helps explain why Zillow data finds that 28% fewer new for-sale listings hit the market in June than a year ago.

“We expect mortgage rates may notch down slightly as inflation comes under control, but they are unlikely to return to 5% in the near future,” said Orphe Divounguy, a senior economist at Zillow Home Loans. “That means many homeowners will move only for major life events, like a new baby or retirement. Over time, homeowners will likely accept higher rates as the new normal, but until then, the market could remain challenging for home shoppers, who will see fewer options and higher prices.”

Optimism?

There is reason to be optimistic that more homes could hit the market in the next few years. Zillow’s survey finds that nearly one-quarter of homeowners are considering selling their home in the next three years or currently have their home listed for sale (23%), which is significantly higher than the 15% of homeowners who said the same one year ago. The share is even greater among mortgage holders who have a rate above 5%. Nearly 40% of those homeowners say they would consider selling their homes in the next three years (38%).

In the meantime, the shortage of for-sale homes is pushing up prices. Zillow’s latest monthly market report finds that home values hit a record high in June, topping $350,000 for the first time nationally. Home values climbed in all of the 50 largest metro areas for the second month in a row.

Higher prices are compounding affordability challenges for buyers who are also facing today’s higher mortgage interest rates. A typical monthly mortgage payment is more than twice as much as it was in 2020 and 13% higher than a year ago.

Getting Creative

While these challenges have tempered demand, buyers are persisting and getting creative to achieve homeownership. A recent survey from Zillow Home Loans finds that nearly half of all buyers are buying points to lower their interest rate and reduce their monthly mortgage payment (45%). Mortgage points give buyers an option to pay an upfront fee to buy down the interest rate on a loan. Buyers are also making compromises on their wish lists and competing for smaller, more affordable homes.

There are tools to help buyers better understand what they can afford and to make homeownership more attainable. Buyers can find out if they’re eligible for down payment assistance programs, which are listed on every for-sale home on Zillow. Buyers can also use mortgage and affordability calculators to understand what they can afford on a monthly basis, and then search for homes by monthly cost to land a home they can afford.

Source: Zillow Group Inc.