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  • Mortgage rates continue to fall, reaching 3-year low


    Interest rates for mortgage loans have been on the decline this month, giving prospective homebuyers something to be happy about at the beginning of the major homebuying season.

    Rates have been tumbling for the the majority of the last quarter, with home loans ending at a three-year low on May 12, according to data from Freddie Mac [1].

    The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage landed at 3.57 percent, down from 3.61 percent last week. This is 0.28 percentage points lower than it was during the same week last year.

    Bankrate saw a similar pattern for 30-year FRMs [2]. Data showed the average came in at 3.52 percent, down from 3.59 percent last week.

    "Many industry professionals believe these low rates will continue."

    Both sources saw drops in the average interest rate of 15-year FRMs as well. According to Freddie Mac, these came in at 2.81 percent, falling from last week's 2.86 percent. Bankrate found 15-year FRMs to have an average interest rate of 2.69 percent, dropping from 2.73 percent last week. At this time last year, Freddie Mac showed 15-year FRMs to have interest rates of 3.07 percent.

    The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage interest rate was found to average 2.78 percent, slightly down from last week's 2.80 percent, Freddie Mac reported.

    "Disappointing April employment data once again kept a lid on Treasury yields, which have struggled to stay above 1.8 percent since late March," explained Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac's chief economist. He added, "Prospective homebuyers will continue to take advantage of a falling rate environment that has seen mortgage rates drop in 14 of the previous 19 weeks."

    Becketti explained that low Treasury yields greatly affect mortgage interest rates, so that when yields stay down, so do rates. Bankrate's Rate Trend Index shows that many industry professionals believe the trend will continue. Nearly three-fourths of respondents indicated they thought rates would hold steady in the coming week, while 18 percent thought they would fall even more. Just 9 percent thought they would increase.

    According to Realtor.com's Chief Economist, Jonathan Smoke, it's safe to assume interest rates will remain under 4 percent through the spring and summer homebuying season [3].

    2 colleagues discussing a projectInterest rates should remain low this summer, giving homebuyers something to be happy about.

    Other factors affect market

    While these rates prove to be good for prospective homebuyers, there are other market forces at play that are making the real estate landscape difficult for buyers. Tight inventory can hold many people back from making a purchase.

    According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory shortages have created a seller's market, encouraging bidding wars and ramping up housing prices [4].

    "Homebuilders need to significantly ramp up production so that more existing homeowners can trade-up and list their home for sale," Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said. "Otherwise, inventory shortages will continue and demand could soften even more in some areas as a greater number of buyers are unable to find homes at affordable prices."

    However, NAR noted that existing-home sales are on pace for the best year in a decade. While inventory may be a challenge for hopeful homeowners, it's one that can be overcome with the right real estate agent and a good mortgage. And, with rates as low as they are today, buying now could be a smart decision.


    [1] Mortgage Rates Reach New 2016 Lows; 30-Year at 3-Year Low
    [2] Mortgage rates for Friday, May 13
    [3] Mortgage Rates Will Likely Remain Low, but Who Knows Where They'll Go?
    [4] Existing-Home Sales on Course for Best Year since 2006, Student Loan Debt Slowing Prospective Buyers

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