Mortgage rates hit record lows in Freddie Mac survey
Mortgage rates have plunged to all-time lows amid concerns the economy is stalling again, Freddie Mac said in its weekly survey.
Lenders were offering the 30-year fixed-rate home loan at an average rate of 4.12% this week, down from 4.22% last week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The 15-year fixed loan was at 3.33%, down from 3.39%.
Both of the rates set records in the survey by the giant mortgage finance company. Borrowers would have paid an average of 0.7% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and points on the 30-year loan and 0.6% on the 15-year loan, Freddie said.
Adjustable-rate loans set records or tied previous lows as well, the survey found.
"On net, the economy added no new jobs last month and was the weakest reading since September 2010," Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said in a news release.
"Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 9.1%, marking its 31st consecutive month of being above 8%, the longest such stretch in 70 years."
The rate on the 30-year fixed loan had bumped above 5% last February before slowly grinding lower.
It has now been below 4.5% for six straight weeks, setting a previous low record of 4.15% in the Aug. 18 survey. (Freddie Mac began tracking the 30-year loan in 1971.)
The survey asks lenders for popular combinations of rates and fees that they are offering to borrowers with good credit and 20% down payments or 20% home equity in refinancings. Well-qualified borrowers who shop around often obtain slightly better deals.
The low rates still aren't exactly generating a new boom in home lending, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. says.
The trade group's latest survey of mortgage applications said they fell by about 5% last week compared with the previous week -- the third straight week of declining demand. From the MBA news release Wednesday:
"Heading into the Labor Day weekend, the 30-year rate was at its second lowest level in the history of our survey (the low point was reached last October), and the 15-year rate marked a new low in our survey," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics.
"Despite these rates however, refinance application volume ... is more than 35% below levels at this time last year. Purchase application volume remains relatively flat at extremely low levels, close to lows last seen in 1996."
-- E. Scott Reckard
Photo: Housing remains sluggish, but this Lebanon, Pa., home sold last year. Credit: Gene. J. Puskar / Associated Press