Jul 12, 2023 - Real Estate

"Golden handcuffs" lock up Ohio's housing supply

Illustration of a handcuff on a keychain in a lock

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Roughly 90% of Ohio homeowners have a mortgage rate below 6%, locking them in place and leaving fewer homes for potential buyers, per Redfin data shared with Axios.

Why it matters: This "golden handcuffs" phenomenon is yet another factor straining our already tight local housing market.

What's happening: Mortgage holders have such great rates, they likely can't move without spending a lot more on a new loan, Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather explains.

  • Interest rates have been steadily climbing for two years.
  • A 30-year rate averaged 6.81% nationwide as of last week, the highest in 20 years, per Freddie Mac data.

By the numbers: About 20% of Ohio homeowners' rates are below 3%, per Redfin — meaning interest rates would more than double under the new average.

Zoom in: In May 2023, the number of closed home sales was down 18% compared to May 2022, according to Columbus Realtors.

Zoom out: It's not just a local issue. Nearly 92% of U.S. homeowners have secured mortgage rates below 6%, per the new Redfin report, which highlights data from late 2022.

Yes, but: Buyers are exploring adjustable-rate mortgages or buydowns in hopes of a lower monthly payment, Fairweather says.

Reality check: Lower rates could loosen up some supply, but not enough to meet demand, as new construction isn't keeping up, either.

  • Fairweather predicts it'll take the U.S. a decade to repair its housing shortage.

💭 Alissa's thought bubble: I've been wearing golden handcuffs since mid-2020. Less than a year after buying our first home, my husband and I refinanced our mortgage as rates plummeted in the pandemic's early days.

  • Our lender joked we'd never see that 3% rate again in our lifetimes — and, luckily, we have no buyer's remorse or reason to move.

Here's an example illustrating why many Columbus-area homeowners are staying put, using a median-priced $284,000 home.

Monthly mortgage payment in Columbus metro area
Data: Redfin; Note: 6.4% was May 2023's average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

👀 Eye-popping stat: The buyer would be paying $472 more per month on the same house just due to the higher interest rate.

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