Mortgage rates hovered near 5% for purchase loans that closed during the last week of March, according to a report (download here) by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS). The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) of $417,000 or less was 5.09%, down from 5.13% one month ago. The average rate for a 15-year FRM of $417,000 or less was 4.57%, down from 4.65%. The FHFA measured interest rates on loans that closed between March 25 and 31. Since the rate is typically determined 30 to 45 days prior to closing, the report depicts market conditions prevailing in mid- to late-February, the FHFA said. According to the above chart, mortgage rates in March were level with rates in November. The average rate for both FRMs and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) was 4.99% in March, down from 5.03% in February. The effective interest rate, which reflects the amortization of initial fees and charges, was 5.08% in March, down 4 basis points from 5.12% in February. The FHFA said initial fees and charges were 0.61% of the loan balance in March, down from 0.63% in February. In addition, 44% of the purchase-money mortgages originated in March were “no point” mortgages, down from 46% in February. The average term was 27.6 years in March, up 0.1 years from 27.5 years in February. The average loan-to-price ratio in March was 74.2%, down from 74.8% in February and the average loan principal was $212,600 in March, up $4,000 from $208,600 in February. In a separate report, FHFA said the national average contract mortgage rate for the purchase of previously occupied homes was 4.99% in March, down from 5.05% last month. This rate is commonly used to adjust ARM rates and previously was the only index rate that federally chartered savings and loan associations could use as an adjustable-rate mortgage index in the early 1980s, FHFA said. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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