Mortgage rates were stagnant again this week as financial markets lingered in a summer lull.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.90 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.93 percent a week ago and 3.45 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has remained below 4 percent for the past month and 11 of the past 12 weeks.
The 15-year fixed-rate average remained the same at 3.18 with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.76 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average slid to 3.14 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.15 percent a week ago and 2.74 percent a year ago.
“The slight drop in rates likely reflected concerns about weakness in certain data released earlier in the week, such as the drop in auto sales, but the market also reacted to stronger than expected job growth in Friday’s employment report,” said Mike Fratantoni, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s chief economist.
Mortgage rates aren’t expected to move much in the coming week. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that half of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week. Brett Sinnott, vice president of capital markets at CMG Financial, is one who predicts mortgage rates will hold steady this week.
“With the Fed in somewhat of a holding pattern as they determine how to lower the balance sheet and [whether] another rate increase is warranted this year, markets have remained calm as we head into the final weeks of summer,” Sinnott said. “This has boded well for mortgage rates, which have seen little movement in either direction, allowing for borrowers to close out any late summer transactions with relative ease. As we head into fall, the biggest event on the horizon is the government debt ‘ceiling’ debate that should throw our public officials into extreme focus.”
Meanwhile, 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 — increased 3 percent. The refinance index grew 5 percent, while the purchase index slipped 1 percent lower.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 46.7 percent of all applications.
“Mortgage rates decreased last week, which led to the highest volume of refinance applications since mid-June,” Fratantoni said. “With rates trading in a narrow range, the purchase market continues to show strength, with application volume running about 7 percent ahead of last year at this time. The increase in refinance applications was driven primarily by a 15 percent increase in government refinances, led by a 17 percent increase in VA refis.”