No other phrase has defined the 2023 housing market as much as the “mortgage rate lock-in effect” – a phenomenon that brought the industry to a standstill, putting downward pressure on everything from inventory levels to home sales. The pandemic-era sub-5% mortgage interest rates that 85% of mortgage holders are locked in to kept homeowners from selling their home and buying another at elevated interest rates, which peaked at 7.79% the week ending Oct. 26, according to Freddie Mac. But will things change this year? There are signs that market conditions will be improving. Mortgage rates dropped steadily over the past seven weeks, providing a boost to existing-home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. …One thing most experts don’t expect to see is an end to shortage of homes for sale.