Mortgage

Average mortgage rate falls to 2.91%: Freddie Mac

The rate fell to the second-lowest level on record, staying under 3% for the fifth consecutive week

Average U.S. mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 2.91% this week, the second-lowest level on record, Freddie Mac said in a report on Thursday.

The rate declined from 2.99% last week, the mortgage financier said. The average rate for a 15-year fixed home loan fell to 2.46% from 2.54%.

“This year has been anything but normal and as the uncertainty lingers, mortgage rates remain near record lows,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “These rates continue to incentivize potential buyers and the home-buying season, which shifted from spring to summer, will likely continue into the fall.”

Existing-home sales jumped 25% in July from June. That beat the prior record gain of 21% set a month earlier, as low mortgage rates fueled demand for real estate purchases, the National Association of Realtors said in a report on Friday.

Seasonally-adjusted sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops rose to an annualized pace of 5.86 million in July, the highest level since 2006, the report said. The median price increased 8.5% from a year ago to $304,100, breaking through the $300,000 threshold for the first time.

The longterm trend is for financing costs to head even lower, Fannie Mae said in its latest forecast. The average U.S. annual rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage probably will fall to 2.7% next year from 3.1% in 2020, the forecast said. Both would be record lows.

That projection is based on an expectation that so-called primary mortgage spread – meaning the difference between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 30-year fixed rate – will narrow, Fannie Mae said.

The spread, sometimes called the margin, was 2.32% last week, down from April’s peak of 2.72%. It was the highest spread since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Last year, the average spread was 1.80%.

That margin “has remained elevated compared to historical norms, likely due to continued lender volume constraints, though these appear to be diminishing,” Fannie Mae said.

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