- High mortgage rates make it difficult for prospective homebuyers to enter the market.
- Mortgage rates could decline if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates next year.
- Here are nine projections from experts on when the Fed's first-rate cut will come.
High mortgage rates have effectively frozen the US housing market. And while lower rates could be on the horizon, Americans might have to wait awhile.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is over 7.4%, up from roughly 3% at the beginning of 2022. This has deterred prospective first-time homebuyers from taking the plunge and made existing homeowners reluctant to sell their homes and buy another — they'd rather stick with the super low rates they already locked in.
Meanwhile, the lack of people selling their homes has contributed to a shortage of housing inventory and helped prop up prices, which may not drop anytime soon. While these factors serve as deterrents for prospective buyers, interest rates may not stay this high forever.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to combat inflation, but many experts predict it will move more cautiously — and perhaps even cut rates — over the next 12 to 18 months, in response to slowing inflation and the prospect of a weakening US economy.
While declining interest rates wouldn't directly cause mortgage rates to fall, the two tend to move in the same direction. That's why prospective homebuyers would be wise to keep tabs on when the Federal Reserve's first interest-rate cut might come — even though rates are unlikely to return to what they were a few years ago.
Insider compiled nine recent expert predictions for when the first-rate cut would come. The predictions are listed chronologically — experts who expect a rate cut to come soonest are listed first.
As soon as year-end
In an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg Television, Bob Michele, J.P. Morgan Asset Management's chief investment manager, said the Fed could pivot — perhaps before the year ends — and start cutting interest rates.
"They're going to tell us that they're going to keep rates higher for longer until inflation is at their target," he said. "But the magnitude of the slowdown we're seeing across the board tells us that we'll probably still be hitting recession around year-end, so they'll be cutting rates by then."
On August 31, Preston Caldwell, a Morningstar senior US economist, wrote in a note that he expected the Fed to start cutting interest rates in February.
"The Fed will pivot to monetary easing as inflation falls back to its 2% target and the need to shore up economic growth becomes a top concern," he wrote.
Not before April
Last month, David Einhorn, the founder and president of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital, wrote that he didn't expect the Fed to cut interest rates until next year.
"We continue to believe that the market is over-anticipating rate cuts and we have extended that view through March of 2024," he said.
Following the release of August's inflation report, KPMG US's chief economist, Diane Swonk, wrote in a note that the Federal Reserve might not be done raising interest rates.
"The Fed needs to see quarters, not months, of fundamentally cooler inflation to cut rates. We are not even close," she wrote. "Our forecast for the first rate cut in May 2024 holds."
Separately, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool, which calculates the odds of different Fed interest-rate moves based on what traders are doing in derivatives markets linked to those rates, there's a 19% chance of a rate cut in March. In May, the odds jump to 82.3%.
Between April and June
In a Reuters poll of 97 economists between September 7 and Tuesday, the consensus prediction was that the Fed wouldn't cut interest rates until the April to June period.
"Tight labor and housing markets present upside risk to inflation," Andrew Hollenhorst, the chief US economist at Citi, told Reuters. "That means that absent a recession, policymakers are likely to keep policy rates on hold well into 2024."
The 2nd quarter of 2024
In a September 7 "Goldman Sachs Exchanges" podcast episode, Goldman Sachs' chief US economist, David Mericle, said he projected the Fed's first interest-rate cut to be in the second quarter of 2024.
"And so the best guess is that we'll get back to 2%," he said, regarding inflation. "But by no means are we definitively there or even close enough. So too soon to say that we've beaten this problem."
Between May and the end of 2024
On Monday, economists from some of North America's biggest banks said they expected the Fed to hold off on cutting rates until sometime between May and the end of next year.
"Given both demonstrated and anticipated progress on inflation, the majority of the committee members believe that the Fed's tightening cycle has run its course," Simona Mocuta, the chief economist of State Street Global Advisors, said.
The 2nd half of 2024
In a Thursday note, Vanguard's global economics and markets team wrote that it didn't expect the Fed to start cutting interest rates until the second half of 2024.
"We believe the catalyst for easing would be either a recession or inflation falling while economic activity remains strong (a 'soft landing')," the team said.
Later next year
Jeff Morton, a portfolio manager at DWS Group, said that interest-rate cuts were unlikely to come until next year.
"We have pushed back our cut forecast to later next year, at the pace of one cut per quarter barring any severe recession," he said.
Story by (Jacob Zinkula)Cary W Porter on