Long-term mortgage rates barely budged this week, mirroring last week’s activity, Freddie Mac reported today.

The average rate on 30-year fixed loans held steady at 5.88 percent, while the average rate on 15-year fixed loans dipped to 5.4 percent from last week’s 5.42 percent. A year ago the 30-year fixed averaged 6.17 percent and the 15-year averaged 5.89 percent.

To qualify for these rates, borrowers must pay points, or fees that lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, which this week averaged 0.4 and 0.5, respectively, on the 30- and 15-year loans.

"Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages held relatively steady for a second week, while ARM rates continued to decline amid market speculation that the Federal Reserve (Fed) may cut rates again at its upcoming Committee meeting," Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. "March’s housing starts were the lowest since March 1991 and consumer sentiment in April fell to a 26-year low, while home-builder confidence remains near record lows. Currently, the federal funds future contracts suggest nearly a 100 percent probability that the Fed will cut rates at the end of this month.

"In its current regional review released on April 16th the Fed noted ‘reports on real estate and construction were generally anemic for the residential sector’ and ‘economic conditions have weakened since its last report.’ In addition, San Francisco Fed Bank President Janet Yellen suggested, ‘the economy has all but stalled and could even contract over the first half of the year’ in a speech the same day and that the downside risks to growth are significant."

Average rates on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell this week, with the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM rate dropping from 5.56 percent to 5.48 percent and the average rate on one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs sinking from 5.18 percent to 5.1 percent. Points on these loans averaged 0.6.


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