Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mortgage rates drop swiftly this week

Borrowers facing resetting rates hope lull will offer refi opportunity
Thursday, September 13, 2007

Inman News

Long-term mortgage rates dropped considerably this week following the release of August's dismal employment report, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac's survey, the rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average 6.31 percent from 6.46 percent last week, and the 15-year fixed rate declined to 5.97 percent from 6.15 percent. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.5 and 0.4, respectively, on the 30- and 15-year loans.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) also saw a drop in rates, as the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM was down at an average 6.17 percent from 6.32 percent a week ago and the rate on one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs sank to 5.66 percent from 5.74 percent. Points on the five-year and one-year loans averaged 0.6 and 0.8, respectively.

"Interest rates on prime conforming loans fell across the board in the past week, with rates on 30-year fixed mortgages averaging 0.15 percentage points below the previous week's level," Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. "The drop in mortgage rates may give some relief to borrowers who are looking to refinance or purchase a home."

In Bankrate.com's survey, fixed mortgage rates plunged this week to four-month lows, with the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling to 6.28 percent. Discount and origination points on these loans averaged 0.43.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing dropped by the same amount to 5.96 percent, according to Bankrate.com. Adjustable mortgage rates were lower as well, with the average one-year ARM inching lower to 6.2 percent and the average 5/1 ARM retreating to 6.3 percent.

Mortgage rates plunged following last Friday's lackluster employment report, Bankrate.com reported. Poor job growth figures raised concerns about economic health and helped push mortgage rates to the lowest point since May 2. Nervousness about the economy often drives investors toward the safe haven of Treasury securities, pushing both bond yields and mortgage rates lower. Rates for jumbo mortgages -- those above $417,000 -- declined by a similar amount, settling at 7.2 percent. While the spread between jumbo and conforming mortgage rates remains uncharacteristically wide, this spread has stabilized in the past two weeks.

Amid the turbulence in mortgage markets, fixed mortgage rates are still an attractive option for borrowers. Just two months ago, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.82 percent, meaning that a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,307. Now that the average conforming 30-year fixed rate is 6.28 percent, the same $200,000 loan carries a monthly payment of $1,235.

The following is a sampling of Bankrate.com's average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas:

New York - 6.31 percent with 0.28 point

Los Angeles - 6.41 percent with 0.66 point

Chicago - 6.31 percent with 0.13 point

San Francisco - 6.25 percent with 0.7 point

Philadelphia - 6.31 percent with 0.36 point

Detroit - 6.28 percent with 0.09 point

Boston - 6.38 percent with 0.22 point

Houston - 6.17 percent with 0.7 point

Dallas - 6.18 percent with 0.54 point

Washington, D.C. - 6.25 percent with 0.62 point

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