Homeowners taking advantage of refi opportunities

By Inman News, Thursday, July 8, 2010.

Mortgage rates hit new lows again this week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.57 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending July 8, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

That’s down from 4.58 percent last week and 5.2 percent a year ago, and is the lowest rate surveyed for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage by Freddie Mac since 1971.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.07 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from 4.04 percent last week but down from 4.69 percent a year ago.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loan averaged 3.75 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.79 percent last week and 4.82 percent a year ago. That rate represented a new low in records dating to 2005.

Rates on 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 3.75 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.8 percent last week and 4.82 percent a year ago.

Rates surveyed by Freddie Mac are for prime borrowers taking out loans with 20 percent downpayments. Borrowers taking out loans too large or risky for purchase or guarantee by Freddie Mac can expect to pay more.

Low rates, driven largely by investors fleeing stocks for safer investments in bonds and mortgage-backed securities backed by the government, haven’t spurred homebuying activity in recent weeks.

A survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows demand for purchase loans falling eight out of the last nine weeks since the expiration of the April 30 deadline for entering into a contract on a home purchase to claim the federal homebuyer tax credit.

Applications for refinancings were up 9.2 percent last week, however, and accounted for 78.7 percent of all loan applications — the greatest refinance share since April 2009, the MBA said.

Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said that because so many homeowners have been able to refinance, the effective mortgage rate of all loans outstanding was just under 6 percent during the first quarter of 2010, the lowest in records dating to 1977.