If your New Year’s resolution was to refinance, this may be the time to do it.
Global economic uncertainty has left the stock market shaky, which in turn has caused investors to flee to the safety of bonds. With yields on bonds falling, mortgage rates have followed suit.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the year opened with a rates tumble: The 30-year fixed-rate average fell to its lowest level in more than 19 months.
The 30-year fixed-rate average plummeted to 3.73 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.87 percent a week ago and 3.87 percent a year ago.
The 30-year fixed rate is at its lowest level since May 23, 2013, when it was 3.59 percent. That was the week that then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress about tapering the federal government’s bond-buying program, causing rates to soar.
The 15-year fixed-rate average sank to 3.05 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.15 percent a week ago and 3.56 percent a year ago.
Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were also down. The five-year ARM average fell to 2.98 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.01 percent a week ago and 3.15 percent a year ago.
The one-year ARM average dropped to 2.39 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.4 percent a week ago.
“Mortgage rates fell to begin the year as 10-year Treasury yields slid beneath 2 percent for the first time in three months,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.
“Meanwhile, the [Federal Reserve] minutes indicated ongoing discussion regarding the timing of the first rate hike. Of the few economic releases this week, ADP Research Institute reports the private sector added an estimated 241,000 jobs in December, which exceeded market expectations and followed an upward revision of 19,000 jobs in November.”
The holiday season was likely the reason mortgage applications declined the final two weeks of the year, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, decreased 9.1 percent from two weeks ago. The MBA did not do a report last week because its offices were closed. The refinance index fell 12 percent, while the purchase index dropped 33 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 65 percent of all applications.