WASHINGTON (5/29/14)--Rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dipped below 4% this week for the first time since October, according to Zillow Inc., while Realtor.com reported that inventories and home prices rose in April.
Despite a steady dose of weak housing numbers of late, this recent data could point to a healthier housing market in the coming months.
Further, with mortgage rates dropping about one-third of a percentage point this year, Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize-winning economist, suggests the low rates could even stimulate the housing market (MarketWatch May 27).
"These declines matter," Shiller said during an interview on CNBC. "People are watching mortgage rates."
The combination of expanded inventories and higher asking prices, meanwhile, could signal that sellers feel more optimistic than a year ago.
Inventories climbed 14.2% in April year-over-year, according to Realtor.com, while the median list home price also rose to $207,500, a 6.5% increase compared with the previous year's numbers.
The age of inventory dropped 15.7% in April from May levels as well, perhaps indicating that properties are being sold at a quicker pace.
While many expect home sales to improve this year, the rate at which houses are being sold falls well short of last year's pace.
Existing home sales, at 4.59 million units in March, fell 7.5% below numbers seen in March 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors.