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Mortgage rates remain steady on uncertain jobs data

30-year, FRM hovers at 4.57%

home loans

Mortgage rates remained unchanged this past week as mixed jobs data created some uncertainty about housing and the economy, Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage came in at 4.57%, unchanged from highs reported a week earlier, and up from 3.55% last year.

While rising rates have been tied to a possible slowdown in housing activity, rates hit a plateau as the jobs situation created more questions for the market, stalling additional upward movement.  

"Mortgage rates were little changed this week following a mixed employment report,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac. “For example, the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, which was below the market consensus forecast, and revisions subtracted another 74,000 from the prior two months. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 7.3%, which was the lowest since December 2008.”

The 15-year, FRM came in at 3.59%, also unchanged from last week, but up from 2.85% a year earlier. 

On the other hand, adjustable rates shifted, with the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaging 3.22%, down from 3.28% a week earlier and up from 2.72% a year ago.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM also hit 2.67%, down from 2.71% a week earlier, and up from 2.61% a year ago.  

Rates have been rising ever since the Fed started sending hints to the market in late spring that the possibility of tapering mortgage-backed securities and Treasury purchases could occur later this year.  

HousingWire covered the dramatic tumble mortgage applications took this past week, falling 13.5% as rates remained elevated. The sharp drop prompted market fears that higher rates are beginning to sideline potential homebuyers as home affordability concerns resurface.

As of now, there are several factors that could impact consumer confidence and rates within the next few weeks.

For starters, the Federal Open Market Committee meets next week. A big question is when will the committee actually decide to scale back its asset purchases – at the next meeting or later in the year, Capital Economics noted in a Thursday report.

Julian Jessop, a chief global economist with Capital Economics, said, “Fed tapering is unlikely to be the major shock to the prospects for the rest of the world, or indeed for the US itself, that many have assumed."

Jessop added, "In short, next week we expect the Fed to announce a reduction of perhaps $10 billion to $15 billion in the pace of asset purchases, from the current $85 billion per month. Surveys of other analysts and market participants suggest that this is the consensus view as well.”

Bankrate’s report also shows fixed rates barely shifting this past week. The 30-year, FRM edged down to 4.71% from 4.72%, while the 15-year, FRM shifted up slightly to 3.75% from 3.74%. Meanwhile, the 5/1 ARM stayed unchanged at 3.65%, according to Bankrate data.

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