Real Estate & Area News

Mortgage Rates Fall Slightly, Applications Rise

Mortgage rates fell this week, according to a report issued Thursday by mortgage giant Freddie Mac, with fixed mortgages falling for the first time in three weeks. The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, the loan commonly used in home purchases, averaged 4.42 percent this week. That's down from last week's 4.46 percent but well above the ultra-low average of 3.32 percent seen at this time last year. The 30-year hit a post-recession high of 4.58 percent in late August amid speculation over when the Fed may begin tapering its bond purchases aimed at keeping rates down.

The average rate this week for a 15-year fixed loan, the preferred loan for most home refinancings, was 3.43 percent. That's just off last week's average of 3.47 percent but almost a full percentage point from last year's average of 2.66 percent. The average rates for so-called adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, receded this week as well. The average for a 1-year ARM slid from 2.59 percent a week ago to 2.51 and the average for a 5-year ARM declined from 2.99 percent to 2.94.

With rates falling slightly, demand for home loans also edged up this week, according to a separate report from the Mortgage Bankers of America. The report showed that overall mortgage applications, including requests for purchase loans and refinancings, rose 1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Without the adjustment the gain would have been staggering, at 43 percent, but that's because the previous week included the Thanksgiving holiday. Since most lenders and government offices were only open for two days that week, the number of applications submitted was down 40 percent from the week before Thanksgiving. The MBA's purchase loan index rose 1 percent last week, while the refinance index climbed 2 percent.

December 12, 2013