Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from around 80 lenders across the country to come up with weekly national averages. It uses rates for high-quality borrowers with strong credit scores and large down payments. Because of the criteria, these rates are not available to every borrower.
The survey is based on home purchase mortgages, which means rates for refinances may be higher. The price adjustment for refinance transactions that went into effect in December is adding to the cost. The adjustment, which applies to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinances, is 0.5 percent of the loan amount. That works out to $1,500 on a $300,000 loan.
The 15-year fixed-rate average slipped to 2.27 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 2.29 percent a week ago and 2.62 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average continued to hold steady, unchanged for the second week in a row at 2.59 percent with an average 0.2 point. It was 3.13 percent a year ago.
“When economic data sends conflicting signals, mortgage rates freeze in place, and that’s what we saw in the past week,” said Holden Lewis, home and mortgage specialist at NerdWallet. “Rates edged downward, but by just a little bit, as bond traders await fresh data on inflation, employment, commodity prices, the Federal Reserve’s plans, and the fate of an infrastructure package in Congress.”
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to its lowest level in six weeks on Tuesday, sliding to 1.56 percent. It rebounded slightly to 1.58 percent on Wednesday. Although mortgage rates have followed the path of long-term bonds less in the past year, they typically tend to rise and fall with them.
A handful of economic reports dragged down Treasury yields this week. Consumer confidence waned for the first time in six months on worries over inflation. The Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index dipped to 117.2 this month, down from 117.5 in April. Last month’s reading had been revised down from 121.7.
CoreLogic Case-Shiller’s home price index was released this week, showing a continued escalation of housing prices. Low mortgage rates and a dearth of houses for sale caused prices to climb 13.3 percent year-over-year in March.
New-home sales were down nearly 6 percent in April. Prices for new homes have jumped nearly 20 percent annually because of rising materials’ costs and low inventory, which has hurt affordability and driven down the pace of sales.
“The back-and-forth swings on the 10-year yield between 1.55 percent and 1.75 percent have been evident for most people to see,” said Logan Mohtashami, housing analyst for Housing Wire. “It doesn't matter how hot the inflation data is coming in at, the missed jobs report, or stronger manufacturing data. We are stuck here, and the stock market still hasn't provided a correction to send money into bonds. The world is starting to get vaccinated more and more, and in time that should drive some global yields higher and nudge [mortgage rates] higher.”
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found the experts it surveyed divided on where rates are headed in the coming week. Although a majority expect rates to fall, a third predict they will rise, and 22 percent say they will stay about the same.
Gordon Miller, owner of Miller Lending Group in Cary, N.C., is one who anticipates rates will go down.
“With the Fed minutes in the rearview mirror and no concern surrounding inflation or plans to taper, the path is clear for rates to remain at the lower end of their trading range,” he said. “I would expect a slight decline over the next week if the 10-year Treasury can stay below 1.60 [percent].”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications dwindled last week. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 4.2 percent from a week earlier. The refinance index dropped 7 percent from the previous week, while the purchase index rose 2 percent. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 61.4 percent of applications.
“Low mortgage rates and the recovering economy continue to boost the demand for homes, even as record-low supply levels push prices higher,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO. “Applications to buy a home increased for the second time in three weeks, and MBA expects purchase mortgage originations to rise to a record of $1.7 trillion in 2021. Refinance activity remains strong this spring, but applications fell for the first time in four weeks.”
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