Another week of disappointing economic reports caused mortgage rates to drop again, according to surveys conducted this week by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com. From a sharp stock sell-off to slumping new-home sales to weaker gross domestic product growth, the news suggests a slower economy and lower inflation are in the works.
As a result, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average 6.18 percent from 6.22 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac’s survey, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage slid from 5.97 percent to 5.92 percent. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30-year and 0.5 on the 15-year loans.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 5.93 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from 5.96 percent last week, while one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs held at 5.49 percent, with points averaging 0.6.
Real GDP, which measures the total value of goods and services produced by the United States for a given period, was revised downward to a 2.2 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, compared with the 3.5 percent initially estimated, adding strength to some economists’ opinion that the U.S. economy is faltering.
“Home sales painted a mixed picture of January’s activity,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a statement. “Continued weakness in the housing market was evidenced in January’s new-home sales, which fell by 17 percent from the previous month. … While the overall trend is unclear, the housing market is likely to continue on its rocky path during the first half of 2007.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates declined for the third time in the past four weeks, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to 6.2 percent. Discount and origination points on these loans averaged 0.32.
The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing fell back below the 6 percent mark, settling at 5.95 percent, according to Bankrate.com. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate dipped to 6.41 percent, and adjustable loans gave chase, with the average 5/1 ARM sinking to 6.03 percent and the average one-year ARM dipping to 5.99 percent.
Bankrate.com said mortgage rates have been slowly retreating in recent weeks, but the movement accelerated this week with more troubles in the subprime mortgage sector and a sharp one-day drop in the stock market. Both events had investors marching in double-time to the safety of long-term government bonds and the mortgage-backed bonds of prime, or top-credit, borrowers.
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 – 6.15 percent with 0.17 point
Los Angeles – 6.27 percent with 0.42 point
Chicago – 6.33 percent with 0.09 point
San Francisco – 6.13 percent with 0.58 point
Philadelphia – 6.2 percent with 0.28 point
Detroit – 6.22 percent with 0.04 point
Boston – 6.31 percent with 0.06 point
Houston – 6.23 percent with 0.56 point
Dallas – 6.1 percent with 0.58 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.11 percent with 0.48 point