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Mortgage

Mortgage lending set to top $3 trillion as mortgage rates tumble

Next year, rates are heading even lower, says Fannie Mae’s Duncan

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Mortgage lending is set to reach $3.14 trillion this year, the highest since 2003, as the annual average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan falls to a record low of 3.2%, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae. Next year, rates are heading even lower, he said.

In 2021, the annual average rate probably will fall to 2.8%, said Duncan, who spoke to HousingWire via a video conference call on Monday in an exclusive interview. That would be the lowest ever recorded.

Duncan said his forecast is based on the open-ended commitment by the Federal Reserve to purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities, coupled with the expectations that “margins” – meaning the difference in the yields for 10-year Treasury yield and mortgage bonds – will continue to shrink as the lending industry adjusts to doing business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mortgage rates are set by bond investors who decide what yield, or return on investment, they’re willing to accept. Market-watchers compare rates between long-term Treasuries and MBS to see what kind of “risk premium” lenders are adding, meaning a buffer to protect profits in case some loans go bad or other problems arise.

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