NEW YORK – Once again, mortgage rates were stagnate this week.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to 4.52 percent with an average 0.4 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.53 percent a week ago and 3.96 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average slid to 4 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 4.02 percent a week ago and 3.23 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average ticked up to 3.87 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.86 percent a week ago and 3.21 percent a year ago.
“Manufacturing output and consumer spending showed improvements, but construction activity was a disappointment,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This meant there was no driving force to move mortgage rates in any meaningful way, which has been the theme in the last two months. That’s good news for price-sensitive home shoppers given that this stability in borrowing costs allows them a little extra time to find the right home.”
For much of the summer, rates have barely budged. The 30-year fixed rate has hovered between 4.55 percent and 4.66 percent, with incremental increases and decreases each week.
“Mortgage rates trended slightly lower over the past week and are well below their recent highs reported in mid-May,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “The decline was likely driven by geopolitical concerns, as incoming data, including inflation and retail sales, as well as comments from Federal Reserve officials all point to higher rates. Several housing market metrics are scheduled for release over the coming week, and although these data do not typically move markets, they will face growing scrutiny as markets search for early signals of a general economic slowdown in housing data.”
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that three-quarters of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week. Elizabeth Rose, sales manager at Nations Lending, is one who predicts rates won’t move much.
“Steady seems to be the word,” Rose said. “Mortgage bonds have been steady, trading in a tight range and unable to break a move in either direction. Fed Chair [Jerome] Powell believes the U.S. is on course for years more of steady growth and low inflation. For the week ahead, I see bonds continuing a steady pattern.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications were down last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index – a measure of total loan application volume – decreased 2½ percent from a week earlier. The refinance index rose 2 percent, while the purchase index fell 5 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 36.5 percent of all applications.
“Not much changed coming out of the [Fourth of July] holiday, as the market is still being held back by a lack of inventory,” said David Stevens, MBA president. “Given that FHA purchase volume did increase while conventional application volume dropped, it’s safe to say that some first-time buyers are clearly entering the market.”