Mortgage rates declined for the second straight week in Freddie Mac’s mortgage survey, thanks to the real estate slowdown and tamer inflation, while Bankrate.com reported that rates stood still, the companies announced today.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell this week to an average 6.4 percent, down from last week when it averaged 6.43 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also declined during the period, falling from 6.11 percent to 6.06 percent.
Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.5 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 6.08 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 6.1 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.54 percent, with an average 0.8 point, down from last week when it averaged 5.6 percent.
“A slowing housing market and signs that inflation is leveling off have helped to lower mortgage rates lately and keep them more affordable,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “For example, housing starts dropped to a three-year low in August, and the Producer Price Index fell below market expectations.
“Going forward, the economy is expected to expand at a somewhat slower rate than it did in the first half of the year. This should continue to keep inflation in check, and therefore, mortgage rates low.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates were unchanged, holding at six-month lows, as the Federal Open Market Committee wrapped up a regularly scheduled meeting on monetary policy Wednesday. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate remains at 6.44 percent, the lowest since March 29, and these loans had an average of 0.3 discount and origination points.
The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing held at 6.12 percent, Bankate.com reported. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate inched higher to 6.7 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages were mixed, with the average 5/1 ARM holding at 6.19 percent and the average one-year ARM increasing to 5.96 percent.
Since the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting committee last raised interest rates in June, fixed mortgage rates have declined nearly one-half percentage point, according to Bankrate.com. Amid slower economic growth and with the Fed in pause mode, there is increasing speculation that the next move may be to cut rates. But before that happens, inflation must subside to levels at which the Fed is comfortable. Bond investors are behaving as if inflation is already under wraps, which has benefited mortgage borrowers via falling rates — fixed mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.
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 – 6.39 percent with 0.06 point
Los Angeles – 6.45 percent with 0.45 point
Chicago – 6.55 percent with 0.05 point
San Francisco – 6.48 percent with 0.21 point
Philadelphia – 6.45 percent with 0.41 point
Detroit – 6.5 percent with 0.01 point
Boston – 6.47 percent with 0.14 point
Houston – 6.39 percent with 0.53 point
Dallas – 6.4 percent with 0.45 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.3 percent with 0.68 point