Mortgage rates stay at all-time low in 50-year-old survey
Mortgage rates are unchanged this week at an average 3.13% for a 30-year fixed-rate home loan, mortgage company Freddie Mac reported on Thursday.
The average rate is the lowest ever in Freddie Mac's weekly survey, which dates back to 1971. New record lows have been set four times since early March.
The survey rates come with an average 0.8 point. One year ago, borrowers were landing 30-year fixed mortgages with typical rates of 3.73%.
Another, more frequent survey of lenders has been turning up even lower mortgage rates: Mortgage News Daily says the average for 30-year rates is now at an even 3% and sank to 2.94% two weeks ago.
And, borrowers who are good at hunting around for loans have been able to find rates as unbelievably low as 2.5%.
Rates have stayed deep in their valley this week as the new surge in coronavirus cases has kept financial markets on edge, says Matthew Speakman, an economist with Zillow.
"Should this increase in COVID-19 case volume continue, mortgage rates would almost certainly fall further to new all-time lows; however, rates would likely rise if states can demonstrate that they have a handle on the virus," Speakman says.
Use the mortgage calculator below to see the low monthly payment that's possible with one of today's low mortgage rates:
Low rates get homebuyers hopping
As states have eased their COVID restrictions, would-be homebuyers have been eagerly shopping for houses and record-low mortgage rates.
"After the Great Recession, it took more than 10 years for purchase demand to rebound to pre-recession levels, but in this crisis, it took less than 10 weeks,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
The government says sales of new homes shot up by a surprisingly strong 16.6% in May, and applications for mortgages to buy homes — so-called purchase loans — last week were up 18% from a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
"The rebound in purchase demand partly reflects deferred sales as well as continued interest from prospective buyers looking to take advantage of the low mortgage rate environment," Khater says.
But many buyers are being stymied by tighter lending standards and shortages of homes for sale, notes George Ratiu, senior economist with Realtor.com.
"Low mortgage rates can only go so far in motivating buyers, when they meet reduced credit availability, fewer homes and higher prices," says Raitu.
As for homeowners, they're also are finding today's ultra-cheap mortgage rates alluring, and many are refinancing into much lower rates and slashing their monthly payments. Refi applications last week were 76% higher than at this time last year, the mortgage bankers say.
Other mortgage rates this week
Rates on other common types of home loans are little changed, Freddie Mac says.
The average for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has nosed up to 2.59%, from 2.58% last week. Fifteen-year loans are a popular option for refinancing and are a bargain compared to a year ago, when those shorter-term home loans were averaging 3.16%.
Meanwhile, rates on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages have slipped. Those loans are known as "ARMs" and have rates that are fixed for five years and then can adjust up or down every year, in sync with a benchmark interest rate.
ARMs are currently being offered at initial rates averaging 3.08%, down from 3.09% last week. Last year at this time, the starter rates on those mortgages were typically 3.39%.
Take a look at today's lowest mortgage rates available where you are: