Nation & World

Mortgage rates tumble to a ten-month low

Rates are attributed to economy's health

A proposal from the California Association of Realtors could encourage older homeowners to sell. (Dreamstime)
A proposal from the California Association of Realtors could encourage older homeowners to sell. (Dreamstime)

Fixed mortgage rates sank to a 10-month low this week amid uncertainty about the health of the economy.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 4.41 percent with an average 0.4 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.)

It was 4.46 percent a week ago and 4.32 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate hasn’t been this low since early April.

“Markets interpreted (the Federal Reserve’s) announcement of a pause in future rate hikes as a signal that the Fed is more concerned about economic risks than they had previously let on, and rates consequently spent the better part of two days retreating,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow.

“The U.S. government shutdown meant markets went much of January without the regular cadence of economic data releases, and now that the government has reopened, markets appear to be placing a large emphasis on these releases in an effort to get a handle on an uncertain economic outlook.

... Rates have stabilized, but it’s clear that the markets are attentively awaiting the economic data they missed during the shutdown.”

Many experts anticipated last week’s stronger-than-expected employment report would push mortgage rates higher.

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A strong jobs report often means wage inflation, and because inflation negatively affects bonds such as mortgage-backed securities, home loan rates often move higher.

But instead of rising, mortgage rates pulled back.

The 15-year fixed-rate average fell to 3.84 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.89 percent a week ago and 3.77 percent a year ago.

The five-year adjustable-rate average drifted down to 3.91 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.96 percent a week ago and 3.57 percent a year ago.

“Economically, outside of the employment report, things aren’t as hot as the Fed feared last year when they projected three rate hikes this year,” said Jim Sahnger, mortgage planner at C2 Financial. “January ISM (non-manufacturing report), December durable goods orders and Q4 productivity were all lower than expected or lower than their prior numbers.”

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