Mortgage rates posted mixed results this week following a better-than-expected unemployment report that seemed to quell fears of a dark economic downturn, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to an average 6.47 percent this week, up from last week’s average of 6.44 percent. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also gained from last week, inching up to 6.16 percent from 6.14 percent.
Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 6.14 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s rate of 6.11 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.63 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.59 percent.
“We expect that mortgage rates will continue to fluctuate as new economic data are released, but still remain in the 6 1/2 to 7 percent range for the rest of the year,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Slowly rising mortgage rates are offset in part by a slowdown in house-price appreciation.
“Consequently, higher rates have resulted in houses sitting on the market for longer periods of time, changing the real estate sector into more of a buyer’s market from the seller’s market of the last few years. This is a plus, as it allows potential home buyers more time to look around and decide what they really want and what they can afford.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, fixed mortgage rates dipped again, falling for the eighth time in the past 10 weeks. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is now 6.45 percent, with an average of 0.33 discount and origination points.
The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage popular for refinancing slid to 6.14 percent, according to Bankrate.com. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate ticked lower to 6.72 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages inched higher, with the average 5/1 ARM increasing to 6.24 percent, and the average one-year ARM nosing upward to 5.99 percent.
Bankrate.com reported that fixed mortgage rates were slightly lower after the August employment report came in nearly on target with forecasts, a rare event. With job growth at moderate levels, any concerns about a sharp economic slowdown were alleviated. But job growth wasn’t so strong as to ignite fears the Fed may need to resume raising interest rates. However, inflation does remain a risk to bond yields and mortgage rates in the coming weeks, as evidenced by Wednesday’s revelation of higher unit labor costs, and mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds. Another reading on the Consumer Price Index will be delivered prior to the Federal Open Market Committee’s next meeting on Sept. 20.
Fixed mortgage rates are nearly one-half percentage point lower than when the Fed last hiked rates at the end of June, Bankrate.com said. At the time, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.93 percent, meaning that the monthly payment on a loan of $165,000 was $1,090. With the average 30-year fixed rate now 6.45 percent, the same loan originated today would carry a monthly payment of $1,037.
The following is a sampling of Bankrate.com’s average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas:
New York – 6.4 percent with 0.23 point
Los Angeles – 6.48 percent with 0.51 point
Chicago – 6.62 percent with 0.08 point
San Francisco – 6.48 percent with 0.31 point
Philadelphia – 6.33 percent with 0.46 point
Detroit – 6.57 percent with 0.03 point
Boston – 6.51 percent with 0.16 point
Houston – 6.44 percent with 0.42 point
Dallas – 6.41 percent with 0.51 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.31 percent with 0.64 point