Mortgage Interest Rates Jump to 6-Week High

A strong job market and consumer credit are driving up mortgage rates for the third consecutive week and now to their highest level in six weeks. Mortgage rates are 0.82 percent higher than a year ago—the largest year-over-year increase since May 2014, Freddie Mac reports.

Despite the higher rates, Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, expects buyer demand to remain high. “This spectacular stretch of solid job gains and low unemployment should help keep home buyer interest elevated,” Khater says. “However, mortgage rates will likely also move up, as the Federal Reserve considers short-term rate hikes this month and at future meetings.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Sept. 13:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.60 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s 4.54 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.78 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.06 percent, with an average 0.5 point, climbing from last week’s 3.99 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.08 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Mortgage Applications Finally Edge Up Again

A brief pause in the rise of interest rates helped buoy mortgage application volume last week, following several weeks of declines. Total mortgage applications for home purchases and refinancings rose 2.7 percent compared to the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. Applications, however, are 2.4 percent lower than a year ago.

The bulk of last week’s increase was driven by home buyers. Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 6 percent during the week, and are 3 percent higher than a year ago, the MBA reports.

Meanwhile, refinance applications dropped 1 percent for the week and are down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. Interest rates were lower a year ago, and refinance applications tend to be more rate-sensitive.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Rise 2.7 Percent as Rates Take a Brief Breather From Surge,” CNBC (Feb. 28, 2018)

Housing Affordability to get ‘Worse in Spring”

As mortgage rates continue to inch higher, consumers are bracing for steeper homebuying costs this spring. Households earning the national median income of $68,000 a year could afford about 59.6 percent of new and existing homes that were sold in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The trade group’s latest report looks at home prices, mortgage interest rates, and median household income across 238 U.S. metros.

Mortgage rates have increased for the past five consecutive weeks. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, predicts that mortgage rates will reach 4.5 percent by the second half of the year. Inventory shortages along with high buyer demand, have prompted home prices to escalate, fueling bidding wars.

Source: “Will It Become Harder to Afford a Home? Experts Say Yes,” realtor.com® (Feb. 9, 2018) and National Association of Home Builders

Mortgage Interest Rates Climb This Week

Rates are increasing, but home buyers can still snag an interest rate that is lower than a year ago.

“The 30-year mortgage rate has been bouncing around in a 10 basis point range since September. While long-term rates have been relatively steady week-to-week, shorter term interest rates have been on the rise. The spread between the 30-year fixed mortgage and the 5/1 Hybrid ARM rate was 59 basis points this week, down 43 basis points from earlier this year. With a narrower spread between fixed and adjustable mortgage rates, more borrowers are opting for a fixed product.” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Dec. 7:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.90 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.36 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 3.30 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Are Supply Woes Causing Loan Demand Drop?

The number of mortgage applications for home purchases continues to underwhelm, despite rates being at their lowest levels since November. Mortgage applications for purchasing a home dropped 3 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The annual gain in purchase applications remains positive (4 percent higher than a year ago), but they’re narrowing as the supply of homes for sale falls and makes it tougher for buyers to find and afford a home, CNBC reports.

Meanwhile, current homeowners may be holding out for even lower rates. Refinancing application volume dropped 2 percent last week and is down 41 percent from a year ago, when mortgage rates were lower.

Source: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Drop 2.3% as Borrowers Wait for Lower Rates,” CNBC (Aug. 30, 2017)

Home Loan Interest Rates Surge to 4-Month High

For the second week, mortgage rates moved higher. This time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched above 3.5 percent for the first time since June.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 20:

’30-year fixed-rate’ mortgages: averaged 3.52 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.47 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.79 percent.

’15-year fixed-rate’ mortgages: averaged 2.79 percent, with an average 0.5 point, also rising from last week’s 2.76 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.98 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Loan Demand Drops Despite Low Rates

Total mortgage activity – including refinances and home purchases – dropped 4 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis even though mortgage rates are near all-time lows, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

“A strong job market and low rates continue to support home sales,” says Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist. MBA reports the average on the 30-year-fixed rate mortgage remains near all-time lows, decreasing last week to 3.64 percent (from 3.65 percent the previous week).

Source: “Mortgage Applications Fell 4% Even as Rates Sit Near Record Lows,” CNBC (Aug. 17, 2016)

Market Unrest Pushes Down Mortgage Interest Rates

For the third consecutive week, mortgage rates edged down, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continuing below 4 percent, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly market survey.

“The Freddie Mac mortgage rate survey had difficulty keeping up with market events this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year mortgage rate dropped 11 basis points to 3.81 percent, the lowest rate in three months. This drop reflected weak inflation and nonstop financial market turbulence that is driving investors to the safe haven of Treasuries. However, the survey was largely complete prior to Wednesday’s Treasury rally that drove the yield on the 10-year Treasury below 2 percent, down 29 basis points since the end of 2015.”

Freddie Mac reports the following mortgage rates for the week ending Jan. 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.81 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.63 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.10 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.19 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.93 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Little to Fear in Home Loan Interest Rate Hikes

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti is dismissing concerns that the Federal Reserve’s latest change in monetary policy could spell trouble for the real estate market. The Fed’s decision to raise its benchmark short-term rates will not cause mortgage rates to skyrocket, reduce housing affordability, or reverse recent improvements in the housing market, he writes on Freddie Mac’s Executive Perspectives blog.

In fact, Becketti predicts that the Fed’s move won’t take much of a toll on mortgage rates at all. As an example, he cites a time during the mid-2000s when the 17 consecutive monthly rate hikes issued by the Fed basically had no effect on mortgage rates, which remained at about 6 percent.

Becketti predicts that mortgage rates will increase gradually from 2015’s 4.1 percent to an average of 4.4 percent by the end of 2016. He expects home prices to moderate more in the new year too, increasing about 4.4 percent this year.

“While we believe the housing sector will remain strong in 2016, there is some uncertainty about the strength of the broader economy,” Becketti says.

Source: “Strong Housing Sector Trumps Tighter Monetary Policy in 2016,” Freddie Mac Executive Perspectives Blog (Jan. 4, 2016).

Mortgage Interest Rates Drop Even Lower This Week

For the second consecutive week, mortgage rates continued to fall, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage still well below 4 percent and 15-year rates dipping below 3 percent, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Low mortgage rates are a welcome sign for those in the market to buy a home this spring season and will help to support homebuyer affordability,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 26:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.69 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.78 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year fixed-rates averaged 4.40 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.97 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.06 percent average. A year ago, 15-rates averaged 3.42 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.92 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.97 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.10 percent

Source: Freddie Mac