Mortgage rates wander downward for the first time in three weeks

December 12, 2013

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Fixed mortgage rates wandered downward for the first time in three weeks, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 4.42 percent with an average 0.7 point after climbing 24 basis points in the past two weeks. It was down from 4.46 percent a week ago but up from 3.32 percent a year ago. Since spiking to 4.58 percent in late August, the 30-year fixed rate has bounced around between 4.57 percent and 4.1 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate average edged down to 3.43 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 3.47 percent a week ago and 2.66 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has remained below 3.5 percent since late September.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also fell. The five-year ARM average was 2.94 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.99 percent a week ago and 2.7 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average was 2.51 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.59 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates were little changed amid a light week of economic data releases,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Of the few releases, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 203,000 in November, and the unemployment rate declined to 7 percent. Also, single family mortgage debt outstanding increased for the first time since 2008. This is a positive sign, as it reflects that the pick-up in new purchase-money originations has offset loan paydowns and led to a net increase in principal outstanding.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications showed a slight uptick last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, edged up 1 percent. The Refinance index rose 2 percent, while the Purchase Index increased 1 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 65 percent of all applications.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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