Mortgage rates posted mixed movement this week as sales of new homes and higher-than-expected inflation offered an unclear economic outlook, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage held at an average 6.16 percent, while the 15-year fixed fell to 5.86 percent from 5.9 percent last week. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
“Recent data releases sent conflicting signals about the direction of the housing market,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a statement. “The rise in existing-home sales in February to a 6.69 million-unit pace, the highest level since last April, offered some hope of firming in housing demand. In contrast, February’s new-home sales fell unexpectedly to 848,000 units, the slowest pace since June 2000, suggesting that more time will be needed before a housing recovery takes place.”
Freddie Mac reported that the average rate on five-year, Treasury-indexed, hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) sank to 5.88 percent this week, while the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM rose to an average 5.43 percent.
In Bankrate.com’s survey, fixed mortgage rates moved higher following the Fed’s stated concerns about inflation. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 6.22 percent, with discount and origination fees on these loans averaging 0.28.
The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage, popular for refinancing, inched lower to 5.92 percent, Bankrate.com reported. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate increased to 6.5 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages were lower, with the average 5/1 ARM dropping to 6.05 percent and the average one-year ARM sliding to 5.94 percent.
Bankrate.com said fixed mortgage rates remain extraordinarily low even as many adjustable-rate and other more exotic mortgages reset to higher levels. With inflation remaining above the Fed’s comfort zone, fixed mortgage rates increased this week, as they are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds. But rates on adjustable mortgages — which are pegged to yields on shorter-term Treasury securities — dipped as consensus builds that the Fed could eventually cut interest rates.
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 – 6.16 percent with 0.13 point
Los Angeles – 6.24 percent with 0.43 point
Chicago – 6.32 percent with 0.03 point
San Francisco – 6.15 percent with 0.53 point
Philadelphia – 6.23 percent with 0.27 point
Detroit – 6.32 percent with no points
Boston – 6.28 percent with 0.09 point
Houston – 6.2 percent with 0.46 point
Dallas – 6.11 percent with 0.48 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.16 percent with 0.49 point