This late in the summer, the home buying season usually starts to wind down. The kids are back in school. Vacation days are mostly gone. Home shoppers traditionally slow down. But this year, the housing market is getting a double shot of espresso thanks to some of the lowest mortgage rates on record. This week, nationwide home finance rates averaged 3.55% for 30-year loans -- the lowest cost in three years. The lowest long-term mortgage average Freddie Mac has ever recorded in its weekly nationwide survey was 3.41% in mid 2016. "The drop in mortgage rates continues to stimulate the real estate market and the economy," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in the new report. "Home purchase demand is up five percent from a year ago and has noticeably strengthened since the early summer months, while refinances surged to their highest share in three and a half years.
Dallas-area home price gains continued to lag national increases in the latest housing market update. Dallas home prices were up 2.7% in June from a year ago, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. Nationwide prices were 3.1% higher during the same period. Dallas-area home price increases are now at the lowest levels in seven years in the closely watched Case-Shiller study. "Home price gains continue to trend down but may be leveling off to a sustainable level," S&P's Philip Murphy said in the report. "While housing has clearly cooled off from 2018, home price gains in most cities remain positive in low single-digits.
The rate of home price growth in the Dallas area is half what it was a year ago. Even though Dallas-area home prices are rising more slowly, they're still at record levels and are more than 50% ahead of where they were before the recession. While lower mortgage rates have fueled an increase in home sales in recent months, there's no sign that housing appreciation will surge.