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Mortgage rates are refusing to budge

(Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)

Mortgage rates continue to be stubbornly settled in, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.


For the third week in a row, the 30-year fixed-rate average did not budge, holding steady at 4.1 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 4.57 percent a year ago. Since late June, the 30-year fixed rate hasn’t been above 4.14 percent or below 4.1 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate average edged down to 3.24 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.25 percent a week ago and 3.59 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has drifted between 3.27 percent and 3.22 percent since late June.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also were flat. The five-year ARM average was unchanged at 2.97 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.28 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average inched up to 2.4 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.39 percent a week ago.

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

“Of the few releases, the ISM’s manufacturing index rose to 59 in August from 57.1 the previous month.  This was the highest reading of the index since March 2011.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, barely moved, growing 0.2 percent. The refinance index increased 1 percent, while the purchase index fell 2 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 57 percent of all applications, its highest level since March.

It also became more difficult to obtain a mortgage in August, according to the MBA.

Mortgage credit availability index, a measure that looks at how available mortgage credit is at a point in time, declined 0.3 percentage points to 116.1 last month. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening.

MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility – credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio – reported by 85 lenders or investors.

“While overall access to credit tightened in August, we did see some loosening in certain segments of the purchase market,” Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, said in a statement. “In particular, lenders instituted additional offerings of loan programs like the FHA 203(k) home improvement program and one-time-close programs for financing new construction.”

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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