Mortgage Rates Stay at All-Time Lows

Purchase loan demand down slightly from a year ago

By Inman News, Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mortgage rates remained at all-time lows this week as worries about the European debt crisis persist, making bonds that fund most mortgages look like safe bets to investors.

While the spring buying season brought buyers out in numbers and boosted prices in many markets, demand for purchase loans fell last week, to a level slightly below that seen at the same time a year ago.

For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, rates averaged 3.66 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending June 28, unchanged from last week but down from 4.51 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. That’s an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgage loans averaged 2.94 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 2.95 percent last week and 3.69 percent a year ago.  That ties the all-time low in records dating to 1991 seen during the week ending June 7.

For five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, rates averaged 2.79 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from 2.77 percent last week but down from 3.22 percent a year ago. Rates on five-year ARM loans hit an all-time low last week in records dating to 2005.

Rates on one-year Treasury-indexed ARM loans averaged 2.74 percent with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week but down from 2.97 percent a year ago.  Rates on one-year ARMs hit an all-time low in records dating to 1984 of 2.72 percent during the week ending March 1.

Low mortgage rates should provide further help to support a recovering housing market, said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft in a statement.

Home prices rebounded in April following seven months of declines in 19 of 20 major markets tracked by the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index.

Pending sales of existing homes climbed 5.9 percent in May, hitting a two-year high, and new home sales were up 7.6 percent to the fastest pace since April 2010.

But a weekly survey of mortgage applications by the Mortgage Bankers Association suggests demand may be petering out.

The MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending June 22 showed demand for purchase loans falling a seasonally adjusted 1 percent from a week earlier, and down nearly 3 percent from a year ago.

In announcing its intention to keep its target for short-term interest rates at or near zero percent through at least late 2014, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee said strains in global financial markets “continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.”

Growth in employment has slowed in recent months, the Fed committee noted, and the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending “appears to be rising at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year” and, despite some signs of improvement, “the housing sector remains depressed.”