iStock illustration

The big mortgage rate drops that are helping the real estate industry ring in the new year shouldn’t be taken as a sign that home sellers will come out of the woodwork in 2024, the top economists at two mortgage market heavyweights say.

Forecasters at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy and securitize residential mortgages from banks, credit unions and independent mortgage companies, each predicted only modest home sales gains in their latest economic outlooks, released just before Christmas.

The forecasts, which only covered national home-sales totals, were issued Dec. 18 and Dec. 20, respectively.

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates found that as of last Thursday, the average interest on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan had fallen a full percentage point, to 6.67 percent, from the multi-decade high the average had clocked in at the end of October.

But that precipitous drop likely won’t send rates below 6 percent next year, the government-owned company’s economic research unit said, as slowing economic growth .

“While lower rates will help alleviate affordability issues, they will not be low enough to pull substantial inventory of existing homes into the market. Thus, the home sales market in 2024 will look similar to 2023, characterized by low transaction volume and a severe lack of inventory. Additionally, the weaker economy and slower labor market will reduce demand,” the researchers wrote, noting however that the tight supply of homes for sale and the large number of buyers still clamoring for a home will still help support prices and help them rise modestly in 2024.

Forecasters at Fannie Mae, for their part, think existing home sales will only increase 0.4 percent nation-wide next year, after likely falling 18.4 percent this year and 17.8 percent in 2022.

“Notwithstanding the recent mortgage rate rally, housing and mortgage markets will enter 2024 at approximately the same level as they entered 2023. Thus, while we think home sales will start to rise over the new year, the combination of modest increases in home prices and still-elevated interest rates suggest a slow pace of recovery from previously recessionary levels of housing activity,” Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan said in a statement issued along with his team’s forecast.

Those predictions broadly chime with those made by’s economics team, who see a 0.1 percent decline in all home sales next year. However, Redfin’s economics team said they expect a 5 percent increase in home sales next year.