Two months ago, when the Federal Reserve announced it was raising its benchmark rate, most observers expected mortgage rates to start creeping higher. Instead, for the past six weeks, the average for the 30-year fixed-rate, the most popular home loan product, has fallen 36 basis points. (A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.) It is now at its lowest level in 10 months.
Mortgage rates are closely tied to the movement of the 10-year Treasury, and investors lately have been flooding the bond market, driving down yields, so rates on home loans have tumbled.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average held steady at 3.65 percent with an average 0.5 point, same as it was a week ago. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.76 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average also was unchanged at 2.95 percent with an average 0.5 point, hovering below 3 percent for the second week in a row. It was 3.05 percent a year ago.
The five-year adjustable rate mortgage average ticked up to 2.85 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.83 percent a week ago and 2.97 percent a year ago.
Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, noted that even though bond yields rose slightly this week they remain low and are helping to keep home loan rates down.
“After another week of financial market oscillations driven by rumors of potential limits on oil production, the 10-year Treasury yield edged up 5 basis points,” Becketti said in a statement. “Despite this week’s uptick in Treasury yields, the 10-year is still 54 basis points lower than it stood at the end of 2015.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications surged as homeowners sought to refinance their loans, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Rising home values are allowing more homeowners to take advantage of the low rates.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume – climbed 8.2 percent from the previous week. The refinance index jumped 16 percent, while the purchase index fell 4 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 64.3 percent of all applications, its highest level in a year.