By Kerry Smith
The pandemic-slowed economy pushed the average 30-year mortgage rate to its lowest point in at least 50 years – since Freddie Mac started tracking rates in 1971.
WASHINGTON – The pandemic-slowed U.S. economy pushed the average 30-year mortgage rate to its lowest point in at least 50 years, according to Freddie Mac, which started tracking rates in 1971.
The size and depth of the secondary mortgage market is helping keep rates at record lows, Freddie Mac says. Today’s low rates are driving higher refinance activity and a modest uptick in demand for new-home purchases.
However, not everyone can take advantage of today’s low rates. In some cases, banks have tightened lending restrictions and are making loans only to well-qualified buyers or home refinancers. In addition, some potential homebuyers in January are now out of work as applications for unemployment skyrocket.
At 3.23%, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is down 0.10% week-to-week (from 3.23%) and 0.91% compared to this same time last year.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.77% this week. That’s down .0.09% from last week (from 2.86%) and down 0.83% year-to-year.
The 5/1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.14 % this week.
Economists at Fannie Mae predicted this week that 30-year rates could go as low as 2.9% in 2021, however it’s unclear yet what effect the COVID-19 pandemic will have over the long term.
“In our view, the negative shock will apply to both the home purchase and rental markets. On the demand side, early indications are that the purchasing benefit of lower interest rates are being offset by the downturn in employment,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
“On the supply side, the number of listings is falling, as those with homes to offer may either be hesitant to allow strangers to tour their home or worry that the lack of demand is placing downward pressure on the sales price they might otherwise receive,” Duncan adds.