Turmoil in global markets has been good for mortgage rates. China’s slowdown and cratering oil prices have created volatility in the markets and spurred investors to flee to safety in government bonds.
Demand for safe assets pushed bond yields lower, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell below 2 percent this week. The movement of the 10-year Treasury is one of the best indicators of whether mortgage rates will rise or fall. When yields go down, rates tend to go down.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average fell for the third week in a row, sinking to 3.81 percent with an average 0.6 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.92 percent a week ago and 3.63 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average dropped to 3.1 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.19 percent a week ago and 2.93 percent a year ago.
The five-year adjustable rate average slid to 2.91 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.01 percent a week ago and 2.83 percent a year ago.
“The Freddie Mac mortgage rate survey had difficulty keeping up with market events this week,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.
“The 30-year mortgage rate dropped 11 basis points to 3.81 percent, the lowest rate in three months. This drop reflected weak inflation — 0.7 percent CPI inflation for all of 2015 — and nonstop financial market turbulence that is driving investors to the safe haven of Treasuries. However, the survey was largely complete prior to Wednesday’s Treasury rally that drove the yield on the 10-year Treasury below 2 percent, down 29 basis points since the end of 2015.”
Meanwhile, as rates dropped, more homeowners sought to refinance their mortgages causing applications to rise, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume – grew 9 percent from the previous week. The refinance jumped 19 percent, while the purchase index dropped 2 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 59.1 percent of all applications.