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November 2018
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Thirty Year Mortgage Rates Drop to 4.79%

Borrowers across the nation are lining up for home refinancing offers as mortgage interest rates drop once again. The current mortgage rates remain low as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average rose slightly to 4.79% with an average 0.8 point for the week ended June 3, according to the buyer of home mortgage loans. In the prior week, the average rate was 4.78%, the lowest since early December. The year-ago average for the thirty-year home loan stood at 5.29%. “The economy grew at a slower rate than originally reported in the first three months of the year … which suggests inflation will remain tame in the near term,” Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said, referring to revised data on U.S. gross domestic product. See full story on first-quarter GDP revision pegging growth at 3.0% pace. “As a result, home loan rates held at historic levels this week,” he said in a statement. Underscoring this, interest rates on fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages reached a new record low, averaging 4.2% — the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking the mortgage rates back in 1991 — down from 4.21% in the prior week.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.95%, unchanged from the prior week, and the lowest level since May 2004. The 1-year ARM averaged 4.81% a year ago. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 3.94%, down from 3.97% in the prior week. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 4.85%.

To obtain the rates, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage required a payment of an average of 0.8 point. The other mortgages required a payment of an average 0.7 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

Fed Reserve Raises Interest Rates

In subprime mortgage debacle and financial crisis, the Federal Reserve urged the national banks to step up to its discount window, pushing the banking industry to get over the stigma on borrowing from the government. When banks and finance companies stopped lending to each other overnight altogether in the fall of 2008, discount window for home mortgage loans became even more crucial. The Fed even narrowed the penalty banks paid for using discount window money, moving the discount rate closer to the Federal funds rate during the crisis.

Watch Video on the Fed Raising the Discount Rate

According to mortgage executive, Bryan Dornan, “Clearly, the Fed is signaling a change in direction for interest rates.”  Dornan continued, “Now that the Fed is raising rates, expect mortgage rates to begin retreating upwards.” Now that the crisis has blown over, the Federal Reserve wants things to get back to normal. Late Thursday afternoon, it surprised the markets by raising the discount rate it charges though its emergency window to 0.75% from 0.50% while keeping its targeted Federal funds rate at between zero and 0.25%. The change will take effect on Friday. Meanwhile, the duration of the mortgage loans will revert to the normal overnight period from 30 days come mid-March. Though many thought the Fed was headed in this direction, most everyone thought it wouldn’t act until its next Open Market Committee meeting next month.

The Fed explained in a brief statement that it wants banks to return to the private debt markets. The increase “will encourage depository institutions to rely on private funding markets for short-term credit and to use the Federal Reserve’s primary credit facility only as a backup source of funds.” The central bank added the move was not a signal it was tightening money nor a signal its outlook on the economy had changed. It is a further indication; however, that the government is pulling away from the extraordinary assistance it has given the financial markets over the last few years.

Later this spring the Fed is expected to stop buying bad credit mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, a move that is worrying those in the housing markets who had hoped for a smooth recovery. The government’s numerous bank industry lifelines have been criticized for allowing banks to make heaps of money by borrowing from the Fed at next to nothing and profiting from the spreads they can make by investing that cash in the Treasury markets. But the Fed also has to come up with an exit strategy for a balance sheet that has become bloated with Wall Street’s unwanted assets. Forcing banks back to the short-term debt markets for funding (or even to rely on their own deposit taking operations) is another baby step to getting the banks out of the emergency safety net.

Which Way Will Mortgage Rates Go?

Mortgage interest rates continue to hover around the 5% mark. Conforming, FHA and VA mortgage rates all continue to be reported in the low 5 percent range for home loans and mortgage-refinancing. There have been positive signs in the last quarter regarding job losses, the financial markets and even the housing sector, but economic recovery is likely still a few months away, Freddie Mac’s chief economist said today. In an article titled, “Are We There Yet?” the outlook from Freddie Mac’s Frank E. Nothaft for 2010 is mostly positive, although there are cautionary flags ahead – particularly with higher mortgage interest rates and the expiration of home-buyer tax credits.

Most economists will be looking at the aftermath from the government’s winding down of its purchases of mortgage loan backed securities from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. By discontinuing its purchase program in April, the central bank is hoping that private buyers of mortgage-backed securities will return, and rates won’t rise much after that. Investors in mortgaged-backed securities have stayed mostly on the sidelines. “U.S. Department of the Treasury MBS purchases were completed by year-end, and Federal Reserve purchases of MBS and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae debt are scheduled to terminate by the end of the first quarter 2010 – both potentially pose the risk of a rise in mortgage rates relative to benchmark yields,” Nothaft said.

Another potential strain on interest rates is the expiration of tax credits for home buyers. Under the federal program, home purchase contracts must be signed by April 30 to qualify for the tax credits. “The tax credits have likely caused some families to purchase a home earlier than they might have otherwise, thus moving sales forward in time and helping support the housing market. High affordability and improved buyer sentiment further bolster sales,” Nothaft wrote.

So when will we get there? “While there may be some bumps along the way, the transition into economic recovery appears to be underway as we head into 2010: real economic growth in the 3 to 3.5 percent range, a cessation of job losses in the first quarter, rising home sales, and a strengthening of housing starts in some markets,” Nothaft wrote “We should be ‘there’ in the next few months, if not already.” Read the original article online.

Mortgage Rates Inch Up

Mortgage interest rates continue to teeter the monumental 5% mark and the demand for mortgage refinancing continues to rise. One problem for most loan applicants is that they do not qualify because conventional and FHA mortgage guidelines have tightened to the point that only a small percentage of borrowers qualify for home refinancing or new home loans. The financial crisis and Great Recession have their roots in the housing bust. When it comes, a lasting recovery will be evident in a housing rebound. Unfortunately, housing appears to be weakening anew.

Housing figures released last week show that after four months of gains, home prices flattened in October. At that time, low current mortgage rates courtesy of the Federal Reserve and a home buyer’s tax credit (courtesy of Congress) were fueling sales. That should have propped up prices. But it was not enough to overcome the drag created by a glut of 3.2 million new and existing unsold single-family homes — about a seven-month supply.

The situation, we fear, will only get worse in months to come. Rates already are starting to rise as lenders brace for the Fed to curtail support for mortgage lending as early as the end of March. The home buyer’s tax credit is scheduled to expire at the end of April. And a new flood of foreclosed homes is ready to hit the market. It is increasingly clear that the Obama administration’s anti-foreclosure effort which pressed mortgage lenders to reduce interest rates — isn’t doing nearly enough. High unemployment rates also mean that many borrowers who did qualify for aid have been unable to keep up with even reduced monthly payments.