“This marks the greatest week-over-week decline for the 30-year mortgage rate in over two months, a stark contrast from last week’s jump following the FOMC announcement,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.
Financial markets had been betting on fiscal stimulus through tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Instead, President Trump has been bogged down by the health care overhaul bill. Anxious investors worry that health care reform will tie up Congress and delay implementation of Trump’s other policies.
Because of these concerns, they have been moving from stocks to bonds, driving down yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury has plummeted 22 basis points — a basis point is 0.01 percentage point — since March 13.
Mortgage rates tend to follow the movement of long-term bonds. When the yield on the 10-year Treasury falls typically so do home loan rates.
Experts are divided on where rates are headed. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half the experts it surveyed said rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week, moving less than two basis points up or down. About a third of the experts said rates will fall. Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, was among them.
“Falling oil prices and the recent Fed hike help keep inflation in check and along with some wobbliness in the stock market. It is all good news for mortgage rates,” McBride said.
Meanwhile, mortgage applications decreased last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — dropped 2.7 percent. The refinance index fell 3 percent, while the purchase index was 2 percent lower.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 45.1 percent of all applications.
“Rates can come up as quickly as they’ve gone down,” Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, said. “With the increasing trend in rates and increasing loan balances, more so on the purchase side, borrowers have started to move to ARMs for lower monthly payments. The overall ARM share is now at 9 percent of all applications, which is the highest level since 2014. It is important to note that the qualified mortgage regulation simply prohibits many riskier ARM products that were available before the financial crisis.”