Homeowners run after refi savings

Business people at rush hour walking in the street, in the style of motion blur
blurAZ / Shutterstock

Overall mortgage applications rose 4.1% in the week ending July 10, with a 5% jump in refinance requests leading the way, the Mortgage Bankers Association, or MBA, reported Wednesday. Compared to a year ago, demand for refi loans was up an impressive 122% .

The rush to refinance continued last week as as mortgage rates sank to new all-time lows under 3%. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to an average 2.98% in the nearly 50-year-old survey from mortgage giant Freddie Mac, and Mortgage News Daily recorded an average of just 2.89% on Thursday of last week.

The deeply discounted rates are being offered to "creditworthy borrowers," says Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of forecasting.

Mortgage rates have been diving into the deep end of the pool as the Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates to fight the current recession, and as coronavirus chaos on the financial markets has pushed down the interest on Treasury bonds. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

A refinance at today's extremely low mortgage rates can shave down a homeowner's monthly payment and lifetime interest costs. More than 16 million homeowners could save an average $283 a month by refinancing, according to a recent study from mortgage data firm Black Knight.

"Every move lower in mortgage rates opens the door for some homeowners where it now makes financial sense for them to refinance," says Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

Use the mortgage calculator below to see the low monthly payment you can get with one of today's low mortgage rates:

Homebuyers step up their borrowing, too

Curious Family Facing Sold For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock

Homeowners weren't the only ones borrowing more last week. Applications for the "purchase loans" used by homebuyers rose 2%, and demand was up a healthy 19% compared to the same week in 2019.

"There continues to be strong homebuyer demand this summer, as home shoppers have returned to the market in many states," Kan says.

Here's another sign of how homebuyers are stampeding back into the housing market, after quarantining through the spring: Sales of previously owned homes skyrocketed 20.7% from May to June. It was the biggest monthly increase on record, the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, said Wednesday.

Americans are snapping up houses, even though there are fewer to go around. Buyers are deciding not to sell, either because they're leery of putting their homes on the market during the pandemic, or because they're grabbing low mortgage rates and are refinancing.

So, the number of houses up for sale in June was down 18.2% from a year ago. The shortage is putting pressure on prices.

"Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply," says Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist.

If you're shopping around for a house and are fortunate enough to find something in your price range, you'll next want to comparison shop for your mortgage — to find one of those rates under 3%. Get loan offers from a bunch of lenders and review them, because rates can vary widely.

Use the same tactic when it's time to buy your homeowners insurance. Go online, get several home insurance quotes and compare them, so you're sure you're getting the right coverage at the best price.

Take a look at today's best mortgage rates where you are:

About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman


Doug Whiteman is the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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