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CHICAGO – Feb. 4, 2015 – Homebuyers need to move fast if they want to spend less, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com.

“Delayed purchases will only result in higher monthly mortgage payments as prices and rates rise,” Smoke writes. Realtor.com forecasts that affordability may decline as much as 10 percent over the year.

The Federal Reserve continues to remind the financial markets that it plans to raise its target federal funds rate this year, which will cause mortgage rates to rise. Many economists predict that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will average near 5 percent by the end of the year.

For now, mortgage rates are near historical lows for homebuyers and homeowners. Freddie Mac reported last week that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent (last year at this time it averaged 4.32 percent), and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.98 percent (a year ago, it averaged 3.40 percent).

“Right now, the Fed is using the word ‘patient’ to describe its approach to picking the time to raise the target rate,” Smoke notes. “However, when the Fed ‘loses patience,’ rates will go up at least 20 to 40 basis points in anticipation of the target rate officially going up. … So, buyers beware: The clock on these low mortgage rates may be ticking.”

Source: “2015: Buy Now, Before the Fed’s Patience Ends,” realtor.com® (Jan. 30, 2015)

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