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Fewer Homeowners Held Onto Ultra-Low Interest Rates in 2023

On a national level, all homeowners with mortgages under 6% represent 88.5% of homeowners, a number which is down from 92.8% in 2022, according to a new report from Redfin. 

That means more than 88.5% of homeowners with mortgages have a rate below the current weekly average of 6.66%, prompting many to stay put instead of selling and buying another home at a higher rate—a phenomenon called the “lock-in effect.” 

But realistically, staying put is not a feasible option long-term—the share of homeowners with a rate of 6% has fallen from its record high partly because some owners are forced to “bite the bullet” and give up their ultra-low rates in order to move. Many are selling because of major life events such as the birth of a bay or divorce which has given them no other choice, while others are putting their home on the market because they want to live in a different house or city that better aligns with their lifestyle. 

Another reason the share has dipped: Everyone who purchased a home in the last year—repeat buyers and first-time buyers alike—was entering the market at a time when the average mortgage rate was above 6%. 

“I’m working with a lot of homeowners who are selling because of things like divorces, new jobs or deaths in the family,” said David Palmer, a Redfin Premier real estate agent in Seattle. 

“I’m also working with homeowners who are bursting at the seams and selling because they’ve outgrown their current home.” 

It’s worth noting that for some homeowners, the fact that home prices soared during the pandemic means they have enough equity to justify selling and taking on a higher rate—especially if they’re downsizing or moving somewhere more affordable. 

The following is according to a Redfin analysis of data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s National Mortgage Database as of the third quarter of 2023, the most recent period for which data is available. The share of homeowners with rates below 6% likely fell further in the fourth quarter because a dip in mortgage rates drove more people to buy and sell homes, even as rates remained above 6%. 

  • Below 6%: 88.5% of mortgaged U.S. homeowners have a rate below 6%, down from a record 92.8% in the second quarter of 2022. 
  • Below 5%: 78.7% have a rate below 5%, down from a record 85.6% in the first quarter of 2022. 
  • Below 4%: 59.4% have a rate below 4%, down from a record 65.3% in the first quarter of 2022. 
  • Below 3%: 22.6% have a rate below 3%, down from a record 24.6% in the first quarter of 2022. 

Click here to view the research in its entirety. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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