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You’re out of luck if you are waiting to buy an affordable home when rates drop

Aerial view of homes and partially developed lots in neighborhoods northwest of Atlanta on Monday August 18, 2007. Photographer: Chris Rank/ Bloomberg

Interest rates may drop by summer, as per forecasts from the Federal Reserve. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean homes will become more affordable.

The Fed plans to lower interest rates multiple times in 2024, with the aim of bringing the federal funds rate down to 4.6% around May or June. While this news might seem promising, it’s important to understand that it won’t automatically lead to cheaper homes for buyers.

Although the federal funds rate doesn’t directly affect consumers, it does influence interest rates on products like credit cards, mortgages, and student loans over time. While lower interest rates could potentially ease the burden of soaring mortgage rates, which reached a four-decade high last year, they won’t address the root cause of high home prices.

The national median home sale price has been steadily climbing, reaching $417,700 by the end of last year. This sharp increase in prices, exacerbated by the pandemic, has created a shortage of housing in many areas, keeping prices at elevated levels.

Even if interest rates do decrease, the housing market still faces challenges such as a shortage of affordable housing options and barriers to homeownership. Urban areas like New York and San Francisco are particularly affected, grappling with high living costs and limited housing supply.

While lower mortgage rates could offer some relief for buyers, they won’t solve the underlying issues fueling high home prices. As a result, concerns about affordability are likely to persist, especially in areas with housing shortages and high costs of living.

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