Mortgage rates surveyed by Freddie Mac hit new lows this week, but low rates alone may not be enough to spur homebuyer demand, a separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association suggests.
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 3.91 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Dec. 22, down from 3.94 percent last week and 4.81 percent a year ago.
Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.21 percent with an average 0.8 point, unchanged from last week’s record low but down from 4.15 percent a year ago.
For five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, rates averaged 2.85 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 2.86 percent last week and 3.75 percent a year ago.
Rates on one-year Treasury-indexed ARM loans averaged 2.77 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 2.81 percent last week and 3.4 percent a year ago.
Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages have been at or below 4 percent for the last eight weeks and are almost 0.9 percentage points below where they were at the beginning of the year, said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. That translates into $1,200 in annual savings for a homebuyer taking out a $200,000 mortgage.
Looking back a week, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed demand for purchase loans was down 7.5 percent during the week ending Dec. 16, and off 6.9 percent from a year ago.
"Remarkably low rates are not enough, as many homeowners continue to hold back due to lack of equity in their properties, poor credit and a weak job market," Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.
Looking back a month, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that existing-home sales increased by 4 percent from October to November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million homes. That’s a 12.2 percent increase from a year ago, when existing homes were selling at a pace of 3.94 million a year.