Mortgage Rates Hit New Lows in Two Weekly Surveys
Mortgage rates dropped again this week, setting new records in two weekly surveys, the result of investor flight from European investments. The Freddie Mac (FRE) weekly survey put the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) at 4.84% with a 0.7 origination point for the week ending May 20, down from last week’s average of 4.93%. A year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.82%. This week’s rate is the lowest since December 10, 2009, when the average was 4.81%. The 25-year-old Bankrate.com weekly survey of large banks and thrifts put the average rate for a 30-year FRM at 4.96% with a 0.5 origination point, the lowest in the history of the survey. It’s down from last week’s average of 5.07%. A year ago, the Bankrate.com average was 5.24%. Despite the end of the Federal Reserve mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase program, mortgage rates are at their lowest point all year. As Europe responds to the Greek debt crisis, the euro is plummeting compared to the dollar. Investors are turning to American investments that, for the moment, seem safer. However, some argue that debt levels in the US are also as risky as in Europe. “People rush to us for 'safety,' although we're Greece — we just haven't gotten there yet,” Anthony Sanders, distinguished professor of real estate finance at George Mason University, told Bankrate.com “Right now we're the port in the storm.” Sanders added US interest rates will rise once European and Chinese economies recover. Freddie said the 15-year FRM averaged 4.24% with an average 0.7 point, down from last week’s average of 4.3% and a year ago, when the average was 4.5%. That’s the lowest average rate for the product since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 1991. Bankrate.com put the 15-year FRM at 4.34% with a 0.5 point, down from last week’s average of 4.45%. Freddie said the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.91% with a 0.6 point, down from last week’s average of 3.95% and a year ago, when it averaged 4.79%. It’s also the lowest average rate for the product since Freddie Mac began tracking it in 2005. Bankrate.com put the average rate for a five-year ARM at 4.14% with a 0.5 point, down from last week’s average of 4.27%. Freddie said the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4% with a 0.6 point, down from last week’s average of 4.02% and a year ago, when it averaged 4.82%. It’s the lowest average rate for the product since October 2004, when it averaged 3.96%. Write to Austin Kilgore. The author held no relevant investments.