Fixed-Rate Loans Remain at or Near Record Lows

By Inman News, Thursday, September 9, 2010.

After being in freefall for much of the summer, mortgage rates took a break from their record-setting ways this week, with rates on three out of four mortgage types tracked by Freddie Mac flat or increasing slightly from last week.

Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Sept. 9, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

That’s up from 4.32 percent last week — a low in records dating to 1971 — but still well below the 5.07 percent average recorded during the same week a year ago.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.83 percent with an average 0.6 point, unchanged from last week and down from 4.5 percent a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans have never been lower since Freddie Mac began tracking them in 1991.

Also edging up were rates on 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, which averaged 3.56 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from 3.54 percent last week and 4.51 percent a year ago.

Among the four loans tracked by Freddie Mac, only 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs showed a week-over-week reduction in rates. Those loans averaged 3.46 percent with an average 0.7 point, down 3.5 percent last week and 4.64 percent a year ago.

Stock market volatility and perceptions that inflation is not a near-term threat have made mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that fund most home loans popular with investors, resulting in lower interest rates for homebuyers. But many economists expect mortgage rates to start rising again once signs of an economic recovery emerge.

In mid-August, when rates were declining, economists with the Mortgage Bankers Association expected rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans to rise to an average of 4.8 percent during the final three months of this year, and 5 percent for most of 2011.

The MBA’s Aug. 16 Mortgage Finance Forecast projects a more dramatic rise in 2012, with rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans averaging 5.8 percent during the second half of the year.