Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated earlier this week that the central bank should move cautiously in raising rates. The news spurred investors to purchase government bonds, sending yields lower.
Because the movement of the 10-year Treasury bond is one of the best indicators of whether mortgage rates will rise or fall, home loan rates are likely to fall.
Yellen’s remarks Tuesday before the Economics Club of New York came too late, however, to affect Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey. The government-supported mortgage backer aggregates home loan rates weekly from 125 lenders nationwide to come up with a national average mortgage rate.
Perhaps because the market was waiting to hear what Yellen said, mortgage rates were essentially flat this week, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.
The 30-year fixed-rate average held steady at 3.71 percent with an average 0.5 point, the same as it was a week ago. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.70 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has remained below 4 percent since late December.
The 15-year fixed-rate average crept up to 2.98 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.96 percent a week ago and 2.98 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has stayed under 3 percent since early February.
The five-year adjustable rate average also moved slightly higher, rising to 2.9 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.89 percent a week ago and 2.92 percent a year ago.
“Dovish comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday triggered a rally in Treasury markets and drove the 10-year yield down 13 basis points from last week’s high,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.
“Yellen’s comments came too late to affect this week’s mortgage rate survey, and the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.71 percent. However, if the Fed’s cautious tone persists, mortgage rates may register the impact in subsequent weeks.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications were down, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — fell 1 percent from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 3 percent, while the purchase index rose 2 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 52.4 percent of all applications.