The 30-year fixed rate is at its lowest recorded level since Freddie Mac began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. It surpassed the previous low of 3.15 percent set at the end of last month. This is the fourth time the 30-year fixed rate has fallen to a new low in the past couple of months.
Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from 125 lenders across the country to come up with national average mortgage rates. It uses rates for borrowers with flawless credit scores. These rates are not available to every borrower.
The 15-year fixed-rate average fell to 2.58 percent with an average 0.8 point. It was 2.62 percent a week ago and 3.25 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average slipped to 3.09 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.10 percent a week ago and 3.48 percent a year ago.
“Continuing the downward momentum that had been building for the better part of a week, rates fell to all-time lows as upticks in coronavirus cases across the country left market participants skeptical of the economic recovery’s sustainability,” said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economist. “It appears that we have reached a turning point of sorts for mortgage rates. More bad news regarding the uptick in coronavirus cases would likely send rates back downward, possibly to new lows. However, rates could just as easily begin to trend upward again, particularly if key economic data or measures to contain or treat the virus show meaningful improvements.”
Another part of what is bringing down mortgage rates is lenders having a better ability to process the tsunami of applications they’ve received. Rates probably could have been lower than they were the past month. But because lenders couldn’t keep up with demand, they kept rates artificially higher than market forces would indicate they should have been.
“Over the last 45 to 60 days, lenders have built up capacity,” said Bill Banfield, executive vice president of capital markets at Quicken Loans. “They’ve been able to obtain additional financing, if they needed it, and they’re recruiting and hiring.”
With the 30-year fixed rate continually finding new lows the past couple of months, it is unclear where the bottom is or if it has been reached. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found nearly two-thirds of the experts it surveyed expect rates to stay about the same in the coming week.
“Markets continue to resemble a hamster running on a wheel in its cage — moving around a lot but going nowhere in the long run,” said Dick Lepre, senior loan officer at RPM Mortgage in Alamo, Calif. “We will see large day-to-day moves with little net movement over the week. Uncertainty driven by news and opinions about the pandemic is influencing markets. This is not only about the actual data but how the media reports it.”
Meanwhile, a surge of home buyers drove mortgage applications higher again last week. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — increased 8 percent from a week earlier.
With home buyers returning to the market after months on the sidelines, the purchase index continued its steady climb. It was up 4 percent from the previous week and was 21 percent higher year-over-year. The refinance index climbed 10 percent and was 106 percent higher than a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 63.2 percent of applications.
“The housing market is on an impressive nine-week streak of increased purchase mortgage applications, and activity is now at its highest level since early 2009,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO. “Record-low mortgage rates and pent-up demand from earlier this spring are encouraging prospective buyers to begin their home search, and despite economic uncertainty and high unemployment, purchase applications have exceeded year-ago levels for four straight weeks. The drop in mortgage rates also led to another sizable weekly and annual increase in refinances, as mortgage lenders continue to see significant demand from homeowners looking to lower their monthly mortgage payments.”
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