Mortgage rates pulled back again this week as the exuberance that led to their rapid rise is beginning to temper.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average tumbled to 4.12 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.2 percent a week ago and 3.92 percent a year ago.
After escalating for nine consecutive weeks, the 30-year fixed rate has fallen the past two weeks. It is back to where it was in early December.
The 15-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.37 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.44 percent a week ago and 3.19 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average sank to 3.23 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.33 percent a week ago and 3.01 percent a year ago.
Home loan rates tend to follow the movement of long-term U.S. Treasuries. When the yield on the 10-year bond falls, rates usually follow.
Since peaking at 2.6 percent in mid-December, the yield on a 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.38 percent this week.
“After absorbing a mixed December jobs report, the 10-year Treasury yield fell eight basis points,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “The 30-year mortgage rate moved in tandem with Treasury yields falling eight basis points to 4.12 percent, the second decline since the presidential election. The December jobs report showed 156,000 jobs added, barely meeting many experts’ expectations, while wage growth was at the high end of expectations at 0.4 percent. If strong wage gains persist, they may push inflation and interest rates higher.”
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half of the experts it surveyed believe rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week.
“Even with some volatility in the market, the mortgage rate is pretty much at the same level as four weeks back,” said Shashank Shekhar, chief executive of Arcus Lending in San Jose. “In the absence of any market moving reports, I don’t expect any major movement this week.”
Meanwhile, with rates falling, mortgage applications picked up last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — grew 5.8 percent from last week. The refinance index rose 4 percent, while the purchase index increased 6 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 51.2 percent of all applications.
“Markets continue to adjust their expectations about the incoming administration and Federal Reserve policy,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s vice president of research and economics. “After seasonal and holiday adjustments, both home purchase and refinance application activity increased modestly last week. The pick-up was especially notable in the government sector, although the decrease in annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums announced earlier this week will not take effect until January 27th.”