Despite prospects of higher mortgage rates, housing market should continue to improve

In this Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, photo, a home under construction and for sale is shown in Roswell, Ga. U.S. homebuilders are feeling slightly less confident about their sales prospects in coming months, though they remain positive overall that the housing market will continue to improve in 2016, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Homebuyers waiting on a return to lower mortgage rates before buying are probably out of luck, a top housing economist told local homebuilders and Realtors Tuesday.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said home borrowing rates are headed higher as the Federal Reserve Bank tightens its monetary policy, inflation edges higher and government deficits worsen.

"Some consumers may be thinking that because mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, maybe I should just wait until rates fall down again," Yun said during a luncheon speech to the Greater Chattanooga Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Chattanooga. "Well, they will be waiting forever."

The top economist for America's biggest real estate association said he expects 30-year mortgage rates will likely rise to about 5 percent, up from the current rate of 4.75