Mortgage rates drift along at or near yearly lows


(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Mortgage rates continue to float along at or near yearly lows, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rate chart for Aug. 21

For two months now, rates have shown little movement, ticking up or down a basis point or two but never wandering far. The 30-year fixed-rate average sank to its lowest level of the year this week, falling to 4.1 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 4.12 percent a week ago and 4.58 percent a year ago. Since late June, the 30-year fixed rate hasn’t drifted above 4.14 percent or below 4.1 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate average declined to 3.23 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.24 percent a week ago and 3.6 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were mixed. The five-year ARM average dropped to 2.95 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.97 percent a week ago and 3.21 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average edged up to 2.38 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.36 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates were down slightly this week, following the decline in 10-year Treasury yields,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “Meanwhile, housing starts in July jumped 15.7 percent to 1.093 million units after falling 4.0 percent a month earlier. Also, July’s consumer prices increased at a 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted pace, the slowest in five months.”

With rates seemingly stubbornly settled in, mortgage applications have remained flat, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, bumped up 1.4 percent. The refinance index rose 3 percent, while the purchase index inched down 0.4 percent.

“Interest rates dropped last week as a result of the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine and other international concerns,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, said in a statement.

“Overall application volume for conventional mortgages increased.  However, there was a 5.9 percent decline in the number of applications for government mortgages, with both purchase and refinance applications declining.  Within the government sector, this decline was led by an 8 percent decline in unadjusted Department of Veterans Affairs applications, while Federal Housing Administration and Rural Housing Service unadjusted applications also fell by 5 percent and 3 percent respectively.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 55 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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