Mortgage Monitor

The Lock-In Effect

Trading up to a 25% more expensive home would more than double the average mortgage holder’s payment

The ICE Mortgage Monitor provides a view of the current mortgage market, including loan-level performance, home price trends data, secondary market metrics and public records. View the complete report findings here.

–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading global provider of technology and data, released its April 2024 ICE Mortgage Monitor Report, based on the company’s industry-leading mortgage, real estate and public records data sets.

There are many headwinds facing the would-be seller in today’s market, making their existing mortgage payment particularly attractive in comparison. While this has been the case for some time, according to Andy Walden, Vice President of Enterprise Research Strategy, the ICE Research and Analysis team sought to quantify this “lock-in effect” beyond simply identifying the number of borrowers within or below a given interest rate band.

“After American mortgage holders secured some of the lowest first lien rates ever and benefited from record home price growth on top of that, we wanted to quantify just how locked-in folks truly are and what kind of rate declines would be needed to shake some of that inventory loose,” said Walden. “Leveraging the ICE Home Price Index and our loan level mortgage data, we looked at how much it would cost the average homeowner with a mortgage to trade up to a 25% more expensive home in today’s market – or to simply move across the street, for that matter, into a home identical to their own. The results were bracing, to say the least.

“That average homeowner’s mortgage payment would more than double, to gain just 25% in property value – hardly an entertaining proposition. That said, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more vivid illustration of the lock-in effect that’s kept for sale inventory in a hole for the last few years. Simply giving up their current rate to move across the street to an equivalently priced home in today’s market would result in a nearly 40% increase in P&I, an average of $500 more per month. Lower rates would ease the calculation for many and make moves more reasonable. But the net result continues to be too few homes for too many buyers. Until that fundamental mismatch is addressed, simple supply and demand will continue to press on both inventory and affordability.”

The Lock-In Effect

Though inventory remains constricted, there have been some signs of improvement. While still lagging 40% below pre-pandemic averages, February’s inventory deficit was the shallowest of any February since 2020. Inventory levels rose in 60 of the 100 largest U.S. markets in the month, with 65% of major markets having more homes available for sale today than they did at the same time last year.

With sales rising, and inventory still tight, months of supply edged slightly lower in February, continuing to provide a floor for home prices...

“After closing out 2023 at an 11-year low, home sales have begun to improve over the last two months,” Walden added. “In fact, lower interest rates in late Q4 and early Q1 led to February home sales hitting their highest adjusted level since March 2023. With sales rising, and inventory still tight, months of supply edged slightly lower in February, continuing to provide a floor for home prices. Our February ICE Home Price Index showed strength in that regard, with adjusted home prices rising by +0.43%, up from +0.33% in January, which is equivalent to a +5.3% seasonally adjusted annualized rate. Keep in mind that SAAR had fallen below 1% as recently as five months ago.”

The lock-in effect on inventory varies significantly across geographies, with the cost to give up an existing mortgage and buy a 25% more expensive home ranging from a low of a 72% payment increase in Buffalo, N.Y., to more than 140% in Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. While home prices and mortgage amounts are certainly a factor in that increased cost, the effect is compounded by the fact that borrowers in more expensive cities tend to have both lower mortgage rates and higher unpaid balances on their existing homes. Because of this, the lock-in effect on inventories may be strongest in more expensive California markets such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose – markets that also face challenges in terms of new construction.

“Mortgage rates need to come down to dislodge the lock-in effect,” Walden concluded. “Since most factors influencing 30-year rates are out of lenders’ control, they need to be able to find ways to compress spreads without simultaneously compressing their own profit margins. That’s key to our mission at ICE – identifying and eliminating inefficiencies in housing finance through technology, while finding smarter, faster, cheaper and more transparent ways to originate loans and increase liquidity.”

Much more information on these and other topics can be found in this month’s Mortgage Monitor.




About Mortgage Monitor
ICE manages the nation’s leading repository of loan-level residential mortgage data and performance information covering the majority of the overall market, including tens of millions of loans across the spectrum of credit products and more than 160 million historical records. The combined insight of the ICE Home Price Index and Collateral Analytics’ home price and real estate data provides one of the most complete, accurate and timely measures of home prices available, covering 95% of U.S. residential properties down to the ZIP-code level. In addition, the company maintains one of the most robust public property records databases available, covering 99.9% of the U.S. population and households from more than 3,100 counties.
ICE’s research experts carefully analyze this data to produce a summary supplemented by dozens of charts and graphs that reflect trend and point-in-time observations for the monthly Mortgage Monitor Report. To review the full report, visit:


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