How low can they go?
Mortgage rates managed to reach yet another low this week, with the 30-year fixed rate now costing borrowers less than 4.4% for the first time in history.
Freddie Mac (OTCQB:FMCC) said on Thursday that the average rate for traditional 30-year fixed mortgages fell to an average of 4.36%, the ninth decline over the past 10 weeks.
Fixed mortgages with a 15-year duration also fell to a historic low of 3.86% and adjustable-rate mortgages, which have shorter terms of one or five years continue hovering near 3.5%.
The sharp decline is a reflection of three factors: Ongoing stress in the housing market, regulatory policies aimed at spurring demand and an increasing belief on Wall Street that deflation (and inflation) is basically non-existent.
"...long-term bond yields fell to the lowest levels since January 2009, allowing fixed mortgage rates to ease to new record lows this week," said Amy Crew Cutts, Freddie's deputy chief economist.
In response to the low rate that Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Wednesday that in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 20, 2010 the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 4.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.
"The volume of refi applications last week was up 26% over their level four weeks ago. Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level in the survey, going back to 1990," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. "We are at a new 15 month high for the Refinance index. With rates this low, many borrowers who refinanced in the past two years may well have an incentive to refinance again, and this is likely increasing refi application activity."