COVINGTON, Ga.—Increased mortgage rates apparently have been cooling the housing market in Newton County.
Sales volume, units sold and the median sales price of homes dropped while the total number of homes for sale increased between November and January in Newton County, according to the real estate services company Georgia MLS.
The January numbers for Newton County show:
• Sales volume decreased 30%, from $37.7 million in November to $26.6 million in January.
• The number of units sold decreased 20%, from 118 in November to 94 in January.
• Median sales price also dipped 10%, from $297,450 in November to $268,900 in January.
• The number of homes for sale — active listings — dropped by 12%, from 391 in November to 346 in January.
However, 13% more homes were put up for sale in the month of January compared to November. New listings totaled 177 in January compared to 157 in November.
John Ryan, chief marketing officer for Georgia MLS, said increased mortgage rates over the past six months “definitely have had a significant impact on the purchasing power of homebuyers.”
He said for every incremental increase in mortgage rates, homebuyers “are affected across all stages of the transaction.”
“From the loan qualifying process where buyers may face the possibility of lower loan amounts, to readjusting their home searches to lower-priced homes, mortgage rates are a primary factor in determining the purchasing power of buyers,” Ryan said.
“For the average homebuyer, the rise in rates could mean the difference between an extra bedroom, or a compromise on the location or desired features of a property.”
According to Bankrate.com, fixed-rate mortgages are tied to the 10-year Treasury rate.
“When that rate goes up, the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tends to do the same, and vice versa,” the website stated.
Supply and demand and rate of inflation also are factors in mortgage rates.
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage on Thursday, Feb. 23, was 6.5% — up from 3.89% in February 2022, according to Freddie Mac.
Ryan noted that units sold have decreased in Newton County for 12 of the past 13 months following record sales years in 2020 and 2021.
He said from August to December 2022, the gap between units sold during months in 2022 compared to the same months of 2021 began growing.
“That comes down to interest rates,” he said. “It’s much wider that we’ve seen in the past.”
Some consumers who would have been homebuyers in 2021 may have waited to buy in 2022 because of the increase in inflation.
However, another reason could be that, as rates rise, more buyers are squeezed out of the market. They may have qualified for a mortgage loan in 2021 at 3.89% but not qualified at 6.5%, Ryan said.
And despite a decrease in buying power, a silver lining for buyers is more homes are available now compared to early 2022, he said.