Mortgage rates decrease, supporting purchase activity growth

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Mortgage rates declined this past week, further continuing to help attract previously reluctant buyers back into the purchase market, according to Freddie Mac.

"For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.3%, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in a press release. "As states reopen, we're seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago. Going forward, mortgage rates have room to decline as mortgage spreads remain elevated."

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced Wednesday that the purchase application index rose for the fifth consecutive week.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.24% for the week ending May 21, down from last week when it averaged 3.28%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.06%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.7%, down from last week when it averaged 2.72%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.51%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.17% with an average 0.4 point, down slightly from last week when it averaged 3.18%. A year ago at this time, the five-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.68%.

"Mortgage rates fell to new lows this week, as broad market uncertainty continues to keep downward pressure on rates. Even as the stock market has improved in recent weeks — normally prompting an upward move in mortgage rates — the still-uncertain outlook for the economy and seemingly low risk of inflation has kept bond yields in check, with mortgage rates following suit and slowly making their way to new all-time lows," said Zillow economist Matthew Speakman when that company released its own rate tracker Wednesday evening.

"But despite recent improvements, rates are still not nearly as low as the bond market would suggest they should be. This is explained — in part — by the tight lending restrictions in the mortgage industry. Borrowers with great credit who are seeking a straightforward loan are being quoted at significantly lower rates than less creditworthy borrowers, resulting in a range of rates that tells a broader story than just the average. Looking ahead, it's unlikely that this dynamic of low overall rates and a wide range of quotes will change until there is more substantial progress with the coronavirus and broader economy."

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