23Jun2013
Dan Green
Author
Dan Green
Filed Under
Mortgage Strategy

When Mortgage Rates Rise 1%, Your Purchasing Power Falls By 10.75%

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Mortgage rates affect home purchasing power

Mortgage rates have run higher since May 1, climbing more than 1 percentage point for some conventional loans, and VA home loans. Not since 2009 have mortgage rates moved by this amount, this quickly.

In May, rising rates foiled FHA-backed homeowners who attempted to refinance ahead new rules for MIP. In June, they're harming home buyers trying to stretch their mortgage-money dollar, and homeowners in want of a HARP refinance for underwater mortgages.

Home affordability has taken a hit..

Mortgage Rates Drive Home Affordability

"How much home can I afford?" It's among the most common questions asked by a home buyer and the starting point for nearly every home search in the country. 

Home affordability questions help buyers in two ways :

  1. They place boundaries on a home search
  2. They establish a price range for homes you can actually afford to buy

Unfortunately, though, asking a question such as "how much home can I afford?" puts undue focus on a home's particular "purchase price".  

Home affordability is not about a home's "sticker price" -- it's about the home's monthly carrying cost. There's the home's real estate tax bill, for example, to consider; and the home's cost to insure. And, of course, there's the mortgage.

The mortgage payment due to your lender is based on how much you borrow, for how long your loan lasts (e.g.; 30 years, 15 years), and your loan's given mortgage rate. The higher your rate, the higher your payment and, as mortgage rates climb, the monthly costs of home ownership jumps.

Mortgage rates have jumped in May.

Click to get today's live mortgage rates.

1% Rate Change = 10.75% Purchasing Power Change

Changing mortgage rates do more to influence home affordability than changing home prices.

If that seems strange to you, think back to the last two years. Quarter-after-quarter, home affordability stuck near all-time highs even as home values have recovered from "the bottom". Home affordability didn't improve because home prices were lower -- it improved because mortgage rates were.

Each time rates ticked lower, a buyer's purchasing power increased, all the way through the all-time lows set last November. When mortgage rates reached 3.31%, affordability peaked.

Lately, however, the trend has reversed. Mortgage rates are pushing 4 percent and the answer to "how much home can I afford" has changed.

Take, for example, the hypothetical home buyer in Washington, D.C. who was pre-approved in November 2012 for a maximum $600,000 home, assuming 20 percent down. While he's been shopping, U.S. mortgage rates have been rising.

Unfortunately,with each 0.125 percentage point increase to rates, his maximum purchase price has dropped $8,100. 

Today, the same buyer can afford a home for $551,400.

Rising mortgage rates and rising home prices are harming today's affordability.

With Changing Rates, Get Re-Pre-Approved

Mortgage rates are markedly higher as compared to just 6 weeks ago. Today's home buyers -- pre-approved or not -- should consider a re-pre-approval; a re-verification of terms and a re-qualification for a mortgage. 

What you can afford today is different from what you could afford May 1. Mortgage rates are rising and purchasing power is waning. See how today's rates fit your housing budget.

Click to get today's live mortgage rates.

About the Author

Dan Green is a mortgage market expert, providing over 10 years of direct-to-consumer advice. NMLS #1019791. You can also connect with Dan on Twitter and on Google+.

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