Home Loan Rates Hold Firm

Home buyers looking for a purchase loan and homeowners who want to refinance are responding well to low mortgage rates. “While mortgage rates generally held steady this week, overall mortgage demand remained very strong, rising over 50% from a year ago thanks to increases in both refinance and purchase mortgage applications,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Oct. 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.65%, with an average 0.6 point, up slightly from last week’s 3.64% average. Last year, 30-year rates averaged 4.71%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.16% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.15%.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.38%, with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week’s average. A year ago, they averaged 4.01%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Refinance & Lower Loan Payments

Mortgage rates are hovering near three-year lows, and more homeowners may want to start taking advantage. Up to 20 million homeowners could “theoretically” see a 75-point drop in mortgage rates by refinancing, according to a recent analysis from Black Knight.

For homeowners with a credit score of at least 720 and with 20% of equity in their property, they could see savings of nearly $270 per month from lower rates.

Homeowners are starting to respond to lower rates. Refinances are at the highest point since mid-2016 and have doubled since late July. Refinances are up 37% over the past week alone, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Home Loan Interest Rates Inch Up

After three weeks of mostly staying steady, average mortgage rates rose this week. Rates still remain at multiyear lows, keeping borrowing costs low for those shopping for homes this summer.

“Despite this slight increase in rates, home buyers are taking advantage of the multiyear low rates in droves, which is evident in the consistently higher refinance and purchase application volumes. The improvement in housing demand should provide sufficient momentum for the housing market and economy during the rest of the year,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac reported the following national averages for the week ending July 18:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.81%, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week’s 3.75%. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.52%.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.23%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.22% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4%.
Source: Freddie Mac

Housing Market Looking Brighter

Real estate indicators are starting to shift in favor of home buyers as the housing market sets its sights on spring. Mortgages are getting cheaper, housing inventories are growing, and home prices are rising at a slower pace.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45 percent last week, Freddie Mac reports.  Late last year, mortgage rates were nearing the 5 percent threshold, but several weeks of decreases have offered some relief to home shoppers.

For home sellers, lower prices may not sound ideal. But housing analysts say sellers need to set a realistic price up front to find a buyer as the market shifts.

Source: “Housing Market’s Fundamentals Actually Turning Brighter,” The Washington Post (Jan. 23, 2019)

Home Loan Payments Up 13% This Year

Monthly mortgage payments have risen an average of nearly 13 percent nationwide over the last year—or an extra $168—as buyers grapple with both higher home prices and increasing mortgage rates, according to a realtor.com® analysis. Luxury buyers are feeling the worst sticker shock, paying double the rate. In the top 10 percent of the market, owners are now paying an average $241 more per/mo.

Mortgage interest rates are about a half of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year, and the Federal Reserve has signaled there are more hikes to come.

Different generations of home buyers may have varying tolerance levels for mortgage rate fluctuations. Millennials are pursuing homeownership at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, averaging in the 4 percent range, while older buyers remember when they were in the double digits. So for millennials, “even a minor upswing [in interest rates] may seem significant,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Source: “Rising Interest Rates Squeeze Homeowners’ Budgets,” The Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2018) [Log-in required.]

Home Loan Interest Rates Just Got Higher

“Optimistic testimony on Capitol Hill from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent Treasury yields higher as Powell stated his outlook for the economy has strengthened since December,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist.

“We think strength in the economy and pent-up housing demand should allow U.S. housing markets to post modest growth this year even with higher mortgage rates,” Kiefer says.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending March 1:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.43 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.40 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.10 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.90 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.85 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.32 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Is Market Volatility Giving Buyers Cold Feet?

It seems a 1,000-plus point drop in the stock market last week mixed with rising interest rates may have been enough to give homeowners and buyers the jitters. Overall mortgage applications last week dipped 4.1 percent week over week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

Broken out, mortgage applications for home purchases plunged 6 percent last week. However, that number is still 4 percent higher than last year. Home buyers complain of weakened affordability and lengthier home searches in research released this week by the National Association of Home Builders. Refinance applications dipped 2 percent last week, but they remain 2.8 percent higher than the same week a year ago.

Mortgage rates continue to move upwards. Last week the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest rate since January 2014, averaging 4.57 percent, the MBA reported.

Source: “Stock Jitters and Higher Interest Rates Drive Weekly Mortgage Applications Down 4.1%,” CNBC (Feb. 14, 2018)

Don’t Panic Over Stock Market Mayhem

The housing market likely won’t be deeply affected by the sharp decline in stocks over the last two days because underlying economic fundamentals remain strong, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. Jobs are being created, workers are seeing wage gains, and there’s no recession on the horizon.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index fell by more than 4 percent Monday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined nearly 5 percent. As of late Tuesday, the S&P was down by almost 1.2 percent since the first of the year, although that comes after a year of double-digit gains.

One metric to watch is long-term bond rates, which historically have gone up as stocks go down. That link, however, hasn’t been as strong in the past few years. Investors tend to increase demand in bonds as an alternative to stocks, driving up yields, which can lead to higher mortgage rates. Since the start of the year, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage has risen, from 3.95 percent to 4.22 percent, according to Freddie Mac. That’s still low by historical standards.

—REALTOR® Magazine

Newbie Buyers Make Smaller Down Payments

About 60 percent of first-time home buyers put down 6 percent or less on a home purchase in September. The median down payment has dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent for first-time buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

NAR conducted a survey of non-homeowners earlier this year and found that most consumers believe you need a down payment of 10 percent or 20 percent to buy a home.

“They may not be aware that these programs are available, and they may not be taking advantage of them,” Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications, said in the latest Down Payment Report, published by the Down Payment Resource.

Thirty-two percent of first-time buyers said they saved for more than two years to have enough to buy a home. Student loan debt was the most often cited obstacle to saving. The second most cited barrier for saving was credit card debt.

Source: “The Down Payment Report,” Down Payment Resource (November 2017)

Mortgage Rates Mostly Flat This Week

Mortgage rates mostly held steady this week after posting a sizable jump last week.

“Following a strong surge last week, rates held relatively flat this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.94 percent.  The markets’ reaction to the upcoming announcement of the next Fed chair may impact the movement of rates in next week’s survey.”

Freddie mac reports the following national averages for the week ending Nov. 2:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages; averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, the same average as last week. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.54 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.27 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.25 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.84 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac