The little-known financial hack home buyers can use to avoid high mortgage rates

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With sky-high house prices and soaring mortgage rates, Americans who are eager to call a property their own have been priced out of buying a home. 

But a little-known tactic can help keep costs down and make ownership more affordable. 

By shopping around for an ‘assumable mortgage’, buyers can find a house with an existing set low rate and have the mortgage transferred into their name, sometimes saving them thousands of dollars a month. 

An estimated 23 percent of active mortgages are assumable, according to data firm Intercontinental Exchange – but not all buyers are qualified to take one over. 

Property search companies are starting to tag homes with assumable mortgages and many of them have rates as low as two percent, less than half the current average of 7.09 percent on 30-year-fixed loans. 

Roam now offers listings in 18 cities across seven states. All of the listings have assumable mortgage rates under six percent

By shopping around for an ‘assumable mortgage’, buyers can find a house with an existing set low rate

One new company, Roam, works with local real estate agents to identify and list homes with the mortgage type. 

They have thousands of homes in cities across the US on their website for a range of budgets.

Many of the properties have rates as low as two or three percent, meaning buyers could save thousands of dollars in monthly payments.

Software developer Ellen Harper found her new home in Georgia through the site. 

She bought a four-bedroom brick colonial in Fairburn with a 2.49 percent mortgage rate – equivalent to a $1,400 monthly payment. 

She told The New York Times: ‘I didn’t want to get a bad mortgage and be in a ball-and-chain situation where all I would be able to do is pay the mortgage.

‘There were other homes — they were nice and everything, but I went for the lowest rate I could find.’ 

Not everyone is eligible or able to assume a mortgage as it often requires a large down payment to bridge the gap between the price of the property when the rate was set and the current value of the home. 

It also requires cooperation from the seller and the lender who need to complete the transfer quickly. 

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has continued to climb since 2021

Soaring rates have poured cold water on demand, with home purchase mortgage applications tumbling 

Despite the hurdles, the tactic is growing in popularity, with sites like Roam springing up to facilitate the process. 

Word is spreading, with the number of people taking over mortgages jumping 139 percent from 2022 to 2023. 

Roam now offers listings in 18 cities across seven states. All of the listings have assumable mortgage rates under six percent. 

The listings state the price, mortgage rate and size of down payment required. 

Raunaq Singh, the chief executive of Roam, told The New York Times that his site means people ‘can shop for any home and not worry’. 

Home loans have been pushed up by the Federal Reserve‘s relentless tightening cycle which has taken interest rates to a 23-year-high.

In real terms, buyers now must fork out an extra $900 per month on an average home than if they had fixed a deal three years ago.

Home loans has been pushed up by the Federal Reserve ‘s relentless tightening cycle which has taken interest rates to a 23-year-high 

Higher mortgage rates have effectively frozen America’s property market as most owners locked into 30-year deals when interest rates were at record lows.

In April, Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said: ‘The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage surpassed 7 percent for the first time this year.

‘As rates trend higher, potential homebuyers are deciding whether to buy before rates rise even more or hold off in hopes of decreases later in the year. 

The US real estate market has benefited from record-low interest rates in recent years which has helped to fuel buyer activity.

In the week to April 15 2021, the average 30-year fixed-rate deal was hovering at 3.04 percent.

It means a buyer purchasing a $400,000 home with a 5 percent down payment faced paying $1,610 a month on their mortgage.

But at today’s rate, the same buyer would instead pay $2,553 per month.