The 30-year fixed rate is at its lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. It surpassed the previous low of 3.13 percent set last month. This is the fifth time the 30-year fixed rate has fallen to a new low in the past several 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 slipped to 2.56 percent with an average 0.8 point. It was 2.59 percent a week ago and 3.18 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average fell to 3 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.08 percent a week ago and 3.45 percent a year ago.
“Mortgage rates fell back to all-time lows this week as the market continues to weigh the economic risks posed by recent surges in covid-19 case counts,” said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economist. “The steady declines suggest that investors are keeping a very close eye on coronavirus case counts and keenly awaiting evidence of how the economy responds as a result of the outbreak. If the uptick in cases does indeed prevent states or cities from continuing their plans to reopen, or even prompt more closures, then rates would likely plunge further and reach new lows.”
Every time mortgage rates appear to reach a nadir, they defy expectations and plunge down even further.
“We expect rates will continue to stabilize at current levels between 3 percent and 3.125 percent for the near future, but [the 30-year fixed rate] has the potential to gradually decline to 2.75 percent over the next six months,” said Preetam Purohit, head of hedging and analytics at Embrace Home Loans, in Middletown, R.I. “The primary/secondary spread, which is the spread between primary mortgage rate and the agency [mortgage-backed security] yield, has tightened over the past few weeks due to increased lender origination capacity, as well as an increase in bank deposits — even though mortgage rates continue to be at historical lows. We think that this dynamic will continue as seasonality related purchase volume decreases in coming months and lenders offer more competitive rates to maintain the record production volume.”
“This continues to be unusual time in history with the country opening and then closing again, making for uncertainty in every sector,” said Mitch Ohlbaum, president of Macoy Capital Partners in Los Angeles. “That said, do not expect any change to rates in the next week. … There is little or no incentive for the [lenders] to lower rates only to cannibalize their own portfolios with higher yields when they are already struggling under record-breaking refinances.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications retreated last week. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 1.8 percent from a week earlier.
The purchase index fell for the second week in a row. It was down 1 percent from the previous week and was 15 percent higher year-over-year. The refinance index slipped 2 percent and was 74 percent higher than a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 61.2 percent of applications.
“Purchase mortgage applications outpaced year-ago levels for the sixth consecutive week, but activity in recent weeks has cooled,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO. “Prospective buyers are seeing limited new and existing housing inventory options to choose from, and consumer confidence is likely being affected by the economic uncertainty caused by the resurgence of covid-19 cases in parts of the South and West. Homeowners continue to refinance their mortgage at levels far higher than those seen last summer.”
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