The New York Times rambles, and mangles mortgages along the way

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Mortgage finance and mortgage regulation aren’t the paper’s strong suits

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Mortgage Rates Hit Record Low: Freddie Mac Survey

Long-term mortgage rates fell for the eighth consecutive week, setting another record low, Freddie Mac (FRE) reported early Wednesday. 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.14 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending Dec. 24, 2008, the GSE reported, down from last week when it averaged 5.19 percent. (Those are stunningly low rates, folks.) Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.17 percent; rates have not been lower since Freddie Mac started its Primary Mortgage Market Survey in 1971, the GSE said in a press statement. With the exception of one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs, other common mortgage products saw rates continue to fall in the past week, as well. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.91 percent, down a single basis point, while the average rate on five-year ARMs fell 11 basis points to 5.49 percent, Freddie reported. Both rates are well below year-ago levels. One-year ARMs saw rates rise ever-so-slightly, by one basis point, to an average of 4.95 percent, Freddie Mac said. “Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages eased for the eighth straight week and set another record low since Freddie Mac's survey began in 1971,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “The housing market, meanwhile, continues to contract," he said, pointing to a drop in existing home sales as reported earlier this week by the National Assoc. of Realtors. A drop in rates has driven a strong refi boom for primary mortgage market participants, according to data released earlier Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association. But as the refi boom enters its second week, questions over lenders' ability to fund and underwrite all of the would-be loans are rising to the surface, as are questions over how much longer rates can stay in the current range. Write to Paul Jackson at paul.jackson@housingwire.com. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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